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THE WAR BETWEEN THE TWO
WITNESSES AND THE ANTICHRIST

Moreover, Revelation 11:7 states that:

"... the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit [Antichrist] will make war against them [the Two Witnesses], overcome them, and kill them ..." (Revelation 11:7).

Once again, certain Christians have attempted to interpret this verse as meaning that the Antichrist will seize the Two Witnesses in the city of Jerusalem [where they will be preaching] and murder them. But is this an adequate explanation? It hardly seems so.

Let's examine this verse in greater detail, for we know from the context that Antichrist does something to them, but exactly what, we are not yet sure. The verse says that he makes war with them. The interpretation we have just examined has watered the word war down in latitude to murder. Now, while both war and murder are heinous in themselves, their scope is vastly different! The word war implies killing on a huge scale, while the word murder implies killing on a much more limited scale.

The Greek word for murder is phoneuo and means killing in the same sense that the word murder means in the English language, usually the criminal killing of a single isolated individual [or, rarely, individuals, plural]. But that is specifically NOT the GREEK word that is used here. So, whatever it is that Antichrist does to the Two Witnesses, it is much more than this.

Let's continue our examination by looking at the actual Greek word for war. There are two words for war in the Greek language - mache and polemos . The word mache means battle, while the word polemos means war. Their meaning is the same, but, once again, their scope is vastly different. A battle is a single isolated engagement between two opposing armies which - though it can be terribly intense in and of itself - is still limited in time and space, while polemos is a whole SERIES of battles fought over a much longer period of time and over a much greater stretch of territory. While the scope of killing implied by mache is obviously much greater than what is implied by the word phoneuo, the scope of slaughter implied by polemos is that much greater still than that which is implied by mache. These distinctions are observed by Trench [New Testament Synonyms], Thayer [Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament], and Vincent [Word Studies in the New Testament].

POLEMOS IS THE WORD USED IN REVELATION 11:7. Even if the word mache had been the one used in connection with the Two Witnesses, the use of that word in connection with two single human beings would have been rendered unintelligible. But to use the word polemos in reference to the murder of two single individuals in the city of Jerusalem is akin to using a nuclear bomb to kill a gnat. It renders it impossible - it's sheer idiocy.

THE TWO WITNESSES & THE
"GREAT CITY" OF REVELATION 11

But let's continue. How should we understand the passage:

"And their dead bodies [the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses] will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually [which in this sense is better translated as "allegorically" (NEB)] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

"Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies ..." (Revelation 11:8-9a)

Once again, there are certain Christians who interpret this passage as meaning that Moses and Elijah will be killed in the city of Jerusalem, and that through the medium of television all the peoples of the world will see their dead bodies in the city and will rejoice over their murder. But is this an adequate explanation? No, it does not appear to be so; it breaks down at several points. And more than that, in this specific instance, the passage is clearly called ALLEGORICAL.

Let's look at the evidence. The above interpretation says that the Two Witnesses will be murdered in the city of Jerusalem. But the name of Jerusalem is not mentioned. The reference given is simply to "... that great city" which, allegorically, is called "Sodom and Egypt."

But never once - in all of Scripture - is Jerusalem referred to as "great," let alone as "Sodom and Egypt." The King James and the New King James version of the Bible mistranslated the words in Revelation 21:10 as that "great city, New Jerusalem." But the Revised, Emphasized and the New American Standard Bible) correctly render the same phrase as that "holy city..." The word great does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts, in reference to Jerusalem, only the word Holy.

Thus, while Jerusalem is referred to as the "Chosen City" (II Chron. 6:6), the "City of Peace" [which is its meaning], the "Holy City" (Neh. 11:1, Rev. 21:10), the "Throne of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17), the "City of Truth" (Zech. 8:3), the "City of the Great King" (Matt. 5:35), and the "City of the Living God" (Heb. 12:22), it is never referred to as a "great city." Indeed, Psalm 122:3 says that Jerusalem is a small, compact city - a city limited in space and area. Jerusalem has never derived its prominence because it was one of the great cities of the earth - a Babylon, a Ninevah, a Rome, a Paris, a London, or a New York; rather, it is because Jerusalem is a "holy city" that its fame is known throughout the earth. Why then would God here [in Revelation 11:8] refer to "Holy Jerusalem" as "great?"

But you say, "the passage refers to the city where Jesus was crucified - and clearly He was crucified in Jerusalem!" But Jesus was NOT crucified in the city of Jerusalem at all. The Scripture is quite clear about this! All the Gospel accounts are extraordinarily careful to point out the fact that Jesus was crucified OUTSIDE the city walls at a place called Calvary or Golgotha, a place close to Jerusalem, but definitely OUTSIDE the city proper! [Please see Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, Baker, pg. 110.] This is substantiated by Hebrews 13:11-12:

"For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, ARE BURNED OUTSIDE THE CAMP.

"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood suffered [was crucified] outside the gate [Jerusalem]." (Hebrews 13:11-12)

The reference, then to "that great city which ALLEGORICALLY (NEB) is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified ..." could not possibly be to Jerusalem. This is no small point, and neither is the Scripture playing games with us here. It's a puzzle! A cipher! A parable!

THE BREAKDOWN OF THE COMMON
INTERPRETATIONS OF THE TWO WITNESSES

It seems then that on every point the interpretation which makes the Two Witnesses merely two single human beings [or even angles] breaks down and collapses into ruin when examined closely. Then, who are these Two Witnesses?

PART 5: PARABLES & CIPHERS

Who, then, are these two witnesses? In the last sub-section we examined the many attempts of theologians up through the years to answer this question, but we discovered that on every point these "historical interpretations" break down - especially as those interpretations attempt to explain the Two Witnesses as two single human beings [or even angles]. Then, who are these Two Witnesses?

PARABLES ARE CIPHERS

Now, before we begin our inquiry, there are certain rules with which we must agree. Parables are puzzles - ciphers. They must be decoded. But in decoding a cipher, we must stay within the bounds of Scripture and reason. Parables are never unreasonable. They do not demand illogical conclusions such as the perception of the Two Witnesses as human torches breathing fire from their mouths. With this in mind, let's start.

Let's begin our examination by inquiring into the apparent omnipresence of the Two Witnesses during the Tribulation. They appear to be everywhere at once. Yet we know that it's not possible for any creature to possess the divine quality of omnipresence - so we seem to have reached an impasse. This means then that the Two Witnesses could not possibly be two single human beings; neither could they be angels, for even the angels do not possess omnipresence. It's a puzzle, it's a cipher.

THE TWO WITNESSES AS CORPORATE PERSONS

But again, the answer is not all that difficult. Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge concerning the Bible knows that the Bible has a lot to say about another kind of being, another kind of entity; God calls these entities by name and refers to them as "beloved." They are two in number and they are CORPORATE beings: Israel and the Church!

Now what is a corporate being? A corporate being is a body or group of people united together in a common cause. The everyday business corporation is an example of a corporate being - for instance, General Motors. General Motors is composed of thousands of single human beings united together to build automobiles. All the members of General Motors work as a team, and they all work under one authority. Furthermore, General Motors [like all CORPORATIONS] is not limited in time and space as is a single human being; it is, in a very real sense, OMNIPRESENT! Moreover - unlike a single human being whose activities can be carried on only in one place and at one time - its activities are GLOBAL. It exists simultaneously in Detroit, New York, and San Francisco; in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It makes automobiles on one continent and sells them on another, and it does all this simultaneously from city to city, nation to nation, continent to continent. Its members come and go, live and die, but General Motors just continues on. Moreover, the laws of the United States treat General Motors as if it were a citizen like any other citizen. It is a "Corporate PERSON." It even possesses all the protection afforded to you and me as citizens by the Constitution. It can sue and be sued at a court of law; it can buy and own property; it can sell property. And all this is as true in any other country as it is here in the United States.

Business corporations derive their existence from man - specifically from the nations in which they are chartered. Indeed, nations themselves are another type of corporate being - though much broader in scope. The number and variety of corporations, CORPORATE BEINGS or CORPORATE PERSONS, are staggering. There are nations, from Uganda to China, and from France to Italy; there are business corporations from General Motors to IBM, and from Nissan to Standard Oil; there are farm trusts, charity trusts, hospitals, and so on, and so on. It's almost endless.

ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH -
GOD'S CORPORATE PERSONS

And in all these instances, these CORPORATE PERSONS are the creations of man - EXCEPT FOR TWO: ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH! Israel and the Church stand alone! For they, and they alone, derive their existence from God! For what business corporation, or for that matter, nation, can say with Israel:

"Look down from heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy and glorious. ...

"Doubtless You are our Father, ... You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name." (Isaiah 63:15-16)

And again, to what other nation or corporate person did God ever say:

"... For I am a Father to Israel, ...

"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.'

"For the Lord has redeemed Jacob [Israel], and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he." (Jeremiah 31:9-11)

And to what corporation of man did Christ ever say [as He does to the Church] that it is,

"... His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:23)

And again,

"... Christ ... loved the church and gave Himself up for her;

"that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

"that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

"... for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church ..." (Ephesians 5:25-27, 29)

ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH AS GOD'S WITNESSES

Moreover, these divine corporate beings are referred to SPECIFICALLY as God's witnesses. To Israel, God says:

"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.'

"Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled ... Let them bring out their witnesses ...

"'[But] YOU ARE MY WITNESSES', says the Lord, 'And My servant whom I have chosen' ..." (Isaiah 43:1,9-10)

And to the Church, He says:

"... and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH AS THE
TWO WITNESSES OF REVELATION 11

Finally, let's examine the two objects to which the Two Witnesses are compared:

  1. The OLIVE TREE.

  2. The LAMPSTAND [Candlestick].

These are code words. Ciphers. But ciphers for what? Again, it's really not all that difficult.

Almost all biblical scholars agree that the term "Olive Tree" is a Scriptural reference, not to a single individual such as Moses or Elijah, but to a whole people and nation - a CORPORATE being or person - Israel (Romans 11).

The same is true with the term, "Lampstand." It is common knowledge in the church that the term "Lampstand" is a Biblical reference to the Church. In fact, in the book of Revelation, the seven Churches (Revelation 1-3) are all represented by a lampstand.

Finally, the Scriptures, as if to emphasize further the corporate nature of the Two Witnesses, represent each single witness with two objects, not one. Why? Why should not the one witness be represented by just one lampstand, and the other witness by just one olive tree? The reason, again, is simple. The number "two" in this case signifies PLURALITY and indicates that the Scripture has in mind here two CORPORATE or PLURAL beings rather than single individuals.

THE MYSTERY UNVEILED

If we once see the Two Witnesses as CORPORATE PERSONS - ISRAEL and the CHURCH - than the entire puzzle falls into place. The cipher is solved.

While it was ridiculous to speak of the Beast [Antichrist] making war [polemos] against two individual saints, such in not the case if these Two Witnesses are Israel and the Church - for both Israel (including those Jews in the Dispersion) and the church [especially the latter] are world-wide in their reach, touching in their presence every continent and every nation.

And while it bordered on the absurd to speak of fire coming out of the mouths of two single individuals, like dragons in a fairy tale or human torches at the circus, one can with J.P. Lange [in his Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures], apprehend that fire now as the fire of judgment:

"When they [the Two Witnesses] desire to injure anyone, fire goeth out of their mouth. This can of course only be spiritual fire; just as the sword issuing forth from the mouth of the Lord. Nevertheless, it is the fire of judgment; it devoureth their enemies."

It is like the fire of judgment that devoured Ananias and Sapphira, his wife:

"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit' ...

"And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and ... [died]; and great fear came upon all who heard of it." (Acts 5:3, 5)

Moreover, the difficulty which we encountered with regard to the references to the great city which allegorically is called "Sodom and Egypt" is cleared up. While Jerusalem is NEVER referred to as "great" in the Holy Scriptures, there is such a city to which this adjective is appended over and over again:

"... mystery, 'BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH'."

Lange writes:

"While Jerusalem cannot be supposed to be this city ... another collective city, Babylon, might easily correspond."

The term "great city" must then have reference not to "holy Jerusalem," but "Babylon the Great," for within Babylon are both the beauty of Egypt and the wretchedness of Sodom. Both Egypt and Sodom constitute the "make-up" of Babylon; Egypt with its treasure, civilization, art, education, etc; and Sodom with its homosexuality and unnatural affections - both are a part of Babylon the Great. It is here, in the streets of Babylon in its empire-wide sense, that the Two Witnesses shall lie; and it is here in the streets of Babylon - where false and apostate religion has always thrived - that the Lord of Glory was crucified.

The existence side-by-side of Sodom and Egypt has always been the hallmark of Babylon the Great - i.e., the world - and most especially Western Civilization. Violence, corruption, and bloodshed coupled with luxury, a refined culture, and a love of art and music: this is the "coupling" of Sodom and Egypt spoken of in chapter eleven of the book of Revelation. The immorality and sensuous intellectuality of Athens is an example. A parallel is also easily discernible in the descriptions of ancient Rome given by Tacitus, Juvenal and others in the time of the Caesars. For then the whole society was utterly corrupted, the temples were merely mad excuses for houses of prostitution, and that in the name of their religions: the streets were filled with violence, and the sport of the day consisted of the gleeful slaughter of thousands in the Coliseum for the amusement of the citizens of Rome. And yet, in the midst of this vice, immorality, gluttony, and cruelty there prevailed in the company of magnificent splendor a high appreciation of music, sculpture, and art, generally, as well as a refined taste for literature and especially poetry.

Nor were the times of Leo the Tenth (Pope 1513-1521) much different, or of Paris during the Jacobins, Berlin in the 1920s, and New York and San Francisco even today. Lange continues:

"It is most significantly said: their corpses lie in the streets of the great city ... The great city itself is called Sodom and Egypt ... There, adds the Seer [prophet], their Lord was crucified. The crucifixion of Christ was itself the result of a coalition of ... [Sodom and Egypt] ... Their corpses lie there ...[for] three days and a half. And precisely this fact is a cause of delight to those who dwell on the Earth ... They rejoice over the apparent destruction of the Two Witnesses; they hold feasts and contemplate further festivities; mutual greetings, in the way of presents or compliments, are exchanged ... The reason for all this is as follows: these two prophets tormented them that dwell upon the earth."

There is nothing so tormenting to the minds of unrighteous men than to be confronted with pure and unsullied righteousness in the midst of their own vile, hateful, and loathsome wickedness. Why? Because - deep down in their hidden parts, in the deeper recesses of their souls - they know right from wrong! They can hide it, sublimate it, bury it, and put it out of sight in the frenzy of their lusts. But when confronted with it in others, it is torture!

"... because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

"Professing to be wise, they became fools ...

"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them [in sexual sin].

"For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator ...

"... being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil [fornication] ...

"... although they know the ordinances of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:19, 22, 24, 25, 29, 32)

They cannot abide righteousness in others; they cannot stand to be in the presence of righteous men. And they will do one of two things when confronted with such a situation: they will first of all seek to subvert them - to bring them down to their level. And, oh, the joy and happiness, the pleasure and delight when they are successful. The laughter! The slap on the back! The assurances that, "it wasn't all that bad, now, was it? You're still alive, aren't you? Lightning didn't strike you? And wasn't it fun!"

But when unsuccessful, oh, the hatred! the hostility! Murder and slaughter enter the heart, and death is the only answer of the unrighteous to the righteous who refuses to be subverted. This was the answer of the Roman state to Peter and Paul, to Ignatius and Polycarp; it was the answer of the Apostate Catholic Church to Huss and Jerome; it was the answer of the Nazi state to Bonhoffer. And so it will be the answer of Babylon the Great to the Two Witnesses.

THE TWO WITNESSES OF DANIEL 12

In addition to the references to the "Two Witnesses" in Revelation 11, there are additional references to them in the Scriptures; one is found in Daniel 12 and it substantiates Revelation 11. It reads as follows:

"... and there will be a time of anguish for God's people greater than any previous suffering in their history (i.e., the Tribulation) ...

"And those who are wise - the people of God (Israel and the church) - shall shine as brightly as the sun's brilliance (because of the purging effects of persecution and tribulation), and those who turn many to righteousness will glitter like stars forever (because of their righteousness and testimony).

"Then I, Daniel, looked and saw TWO MEN (lit. persons, the Two Witnesses) on each bank of the river. And one of them (one of the Two Witnesses) asked the man in linen robes (Christ) who was standing now above the river (hovering over it). 'How long will it be before the terrors end'? (i.e., the terrors of the last half of the Tribulation).

"He (i.e., Christ) replied, with both hands lifted to heaven ... that they will not end until three and a half years (i.e., the last half of the tribulation; other translations read "time, times, and half a time") after the power of God's people (Israel and the church) has been crushed.

"I heard what he said, but I didn't understand what he meant, so I said, 'Sir, how will this come out'?

"But He said, 'Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is not to be understood until the time of the end (i.e., until the latter days).

"'Many shall be purified by great trials and persecutions. But the wicked shall continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are willing to learn will know what it means'." (Daniel 12:6-10)

THE TWO WITNESSES AND THE 144,000

Finally, coded - but very specific - references to the "Two Witnesses" are made insofar as the "marking out" or "sealing" of the "saints of God" during the last half of the Seventieth Week.

Immediately after the Abomination of Desolation - and just prior to the blowing of the seven trumpets (which signifies the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation and the supernatural events which pertain to it) - the "saints of God" are sealed. Why? - to protect them from the supernatural events of this period.

The sealing of God's servants directly concerns the passages of Scripture which deal with the so-called "144,000." There is perhaps no other group of verses around which so much misunderstanding and confusion swirl than those verses which deal with the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-7. It is a sad commentary on all of us in the Christian community that so much "elitism" has resulted from false interpretations concerning the message of these passages of Scripture. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that once again we recognize that these Scriptures - like the Scriptures which dealt with the Two Witnesses, etc. - have been written in code, their message hidden in a parable or a cipher.

THE 144,000 OF REVELATION
SEVEN AND REVELATION FOURTEEN

The first important fact that we should note with regard to these passages is that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 are different from the 144,000 of Revelation 14. WE ARE DEALING WITH TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS. In comparing the 144,000 of Revelation 14 with the 144,000 of Revelation 7, Kelly writes that the group in Revelation 14 is:

"... a remnant, not merely sealed as the servants of God [like a similar band out of the twelve tribes of Israel in chapter vii (7)], but brought into association with the Lamb in Zion, that is, with GOD'S ROYAL PURPOSE IN GRACE ..."

In commenting on Kelley, Pentecost writes:

"It is ... held that those in chapter 7 are on earth and these (in chapter 14) in heaven, making Mt. Zion the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. Those in chapter fourteen are said to be identified with the Lamb and those in chapter seven are not. Those in chapter seven are 'sealed' but those in chapter fourteen have 'the Father's name written in their foreheads.'"

One group is heavenly, the other earthly, one group "... follows the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," the second group is numbered exclusively from the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, there can be no doubt as to their identity: the 144,000 of Revelation 7 being Israel, and the 144,00 of Revelation 14 being the Church.

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