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TWO WITNESSES:

(Some of the Bible verses quoted in this study have had comments added in brackets. The sole purpose of this study technique is to emphasise or introduce a line of thought. All verses KJV unless otherwise stated).

(Rev 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days (1260 days), clothed in sackcloth.

How many times will this event occur?
Is this a 'one-off' event, or has God set it to occur more than once?
The following verses many help to determine the correct answer;
(Rev 11:7-14) And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them ... And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud ... and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

As we will cover in more detail later, the second woe is the 6th trumpet, and the third woe is the 7th trumpet.
This is therefore telling us that the Two Witnesses finish their testimony between the 6th and 7th trumpet.
So, if the Two Witnesses event is set to happen more than once, then the trumpets would also need to occur more than once. Not only that; "the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit" would also need to occur more than once. These events are locked together, due to their relationship with each other; and this includes timing.
For example, if we choose to believe that the Two Witnesses ended their testimony in the year 1798; then we would also have to accept that the 6th trumpet occurred before this time, and that the 7th trumpet would occur after this time.

So having established this point, we now ask the question; are these past or future?
Are they men or something else?

We'd like you to consider the following study on how Revelation's prophesies link together. Like Daniel; by overlaying Revelation's prophecies, the events within Revelation become as clear as a bedtime story.
[You can read a full study about how the prophecies link together here; Understanding the Book of Revelation ].

Do we need to understand Revelation?
Yes!
Jesus wants us to understand the events within Revelation's story;
(Rev 1:3) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

How can we 'keep those things which are written therein', if we do not fully understand its contents?
And how can we receive the promised blessing, if we do not even attempt to understand these prophecies?

So with that in mind, the purpose of this study is to determine;

1/ the purpose of the two witnesses,
2/ what or who they are,
3/ when did they, or will they fulfil their purpose.

1/ Purpose of Two Witnesses

Is Jesus coming soon?
Yes!
And what is He going to do?
End the wickedness of this world and gather those who through faith, are obedient to the will of God.
How will He do this?

(Mat 25:31) When the Son of man shall come in his glory (at the Second Coming), and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
(Mat 25:32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep (righteous) from the goats (wicked):
(Mat 25:33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
(Mat 25:34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

And notice the fate of the wicked;
(Mat 25:41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,…

At the time of Jesus Second Coming, the wicked (those with the Mark of the Beast) will be put to death;
(Rev 19:21) And the remnant (of the wicked) were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

From these verses, we see that at the Second Coming of Jesus, all nations will be gathered; the righteous (those with the seal of God) will inherit the kingdom, while the wicked (those with the Mark of the Beast) will be killed. At Jesus' coming, millions of people both good and evil will still be alive. However, did you know, that in God's system of justice, the wicked cannot be put to death without the testimony of two or more witnesses;
(Heb 10:28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Why would Paul say that the testimony of two or three witnesses is required?
Because God set this standard Himself.
Notice these verses from Deuteronomy;
(Deu 19:15) One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
(Deu 17:6) At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
(Deu 17:7) The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death,…

Being a witness isn't an easy thing. The hands of the witnesses are first to put the guilty to death.
From these verses, we can see the purpose of having Two Witnesses.

2/ Who or what are the Two Witnesses

Who are the Two Witnesses, that they would be first to kill the wicked?
The appearing of the Two Witnesses must occur before the Second Coming of Jesus.
According to Rev 11:3, they will only do this particular activity for a period of 1260 days;
(Rev 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days (1260 days), clothed in sackcloth.

It is also important to note in the above verse, that man has added the words 'power unto'. The original text simply says; And I will give my two witnesses

There are claims that the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah (having both appeared in a vision to the apostles on the mount of transfiguration Mat 17:9),
or Ezekiel and John (having both eaten 'the little book'),
or the Old and New Testaments.

However we'd like you to consider why we believe Scripture identifies them as The Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible tells us exactly who the Two Witnesses are;
(Rev 11:4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

The Book of Zechariah gives us clues to their identity,
(Zec 6:5) …These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

This verse identifies the Holy Spirit as 'standing before the Lord of all the earth'.
But we are given even more clues to their identity;
(Zec 4:14) …These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

This segment starts with the Angel asking Zechariah a question;
(Zec 4:2) And said unto me, What seest thou?…

Zechariah answers: a candlestick (lampstand) all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

Zechariah confused says:
(Zec 4:4) So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

Now please note, that the Angel gives a complete and full answer to the question: "What are these, (lampstand and olive trees) my lord?"
Here is the Angel's answer:
This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Both the scene Zechariah saw, and this verse, indicate that 'the word' goes out to the world through the enabling power of 'the spirit' (represented by the oil flowing from the olive trees).

Remember the question?
It was 'what are these, (lampstand and olive trees) my lord'.
So what kind of answer was that?

Zechariah didn't understand it at all, so he continues asking in the hope of gaining a clearer understanding.
Looking closer he saw that two golden pipes collected oil from branches of the olive trees to feed the lampstand.
Zechariah asks the same question again in a slightly different way;
(Zec 4:11) …What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?…

The Angel answers;
(Zec 4:14) Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

In the vision, the lampstand appears to represent the Word, which is empowered by the oil flowing from the olive trees (Holy Spirit).

This would also make 'the Word' and 'the Spirit' the two anointed ones, which stand before the Lord of the whole earth.
This sounds like a very exalted and powerful position to be standing.
Could this be relating to two redeemed sinners???? The two anointed ones which stand before God?

In Acts 4:26, Jesus is described as 'an anointed one';
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One
(Christ). NIV

Christ actually means 'anointed one'.
Notice Jesus' words;
(Luk 4:18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he (the Father) hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;…

As we know, 'the Word' is the Holy Scriptures or the Bible.
'The Word' is also Jesus.
Notice these verses from John 1:1+14;
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh (Jesus), and dwelt among us,…

Also Rev 19:13; And he (Jesus) was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
ie. the Bible = the Word = Jesus.

Notice that Jesus (the Word) is represented by a lamp and also the light from the lampstand,
(Psa 119:105) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
(Psa 119:130) The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
(Joh 8:12) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:…
(Rev 21:23) And the city had no need of the sun,… the Lamb is the light thereof. (Lamp NIV).

The above verses show clearly the link between the lamp and Jesus (the Word).
One may wonder from Rev 11, why does it take two lampstands to represent 'the word'?
Well, God's word contains two elements: The Old Testament and the New Testament.
(This would explain why Zechariah only saw one lampstand, because there was only the Old Testament in his time).

Without Holy Spirit enabling, the Word of God is merely a book of mystery and words. The working of the Holy Spirit brings forth 'light' from 'the word'.
(You could almost say the lampstands are the written word, and the light they give is the living word. The oil is the fuel required to give light. After all, what use is a lamp without oil?)

The Holy Spirit is represented by two olive trees (bringing forth oil), because it also has 2 elements.
The first job (or element) of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to show our need for a saviour.
Once this is achieved, the second element is to teach the new Christian by revealing the 'light' from within 'the word';
(Joh 16:13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:…

As already covered, we are actually told directly that one of the anointed ones is the Holy Spirit;
(Zec 6:5) ...four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

Notice the connection;
(Zec 4:14) Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Which links to our two witnesses verse;
(Rev 11:4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

So, let's see if other verses support the idea that Jesus (the Word) and the Holy Spirit are the two witnesses of Rev 11:
(Rev 1:5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,…
(Mat 24:14) And this gospel of the kingdom (the Word) shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
(Act 5:32) And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost,…
(1Jo 5:6) …And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
(Heb 10:15) …the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us:…
(Rom 8:16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

The Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are all considered witnesses;
(1Jo 5:7) For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (NKJV)

Could the Father therefore send the Word, and the Holy Spirit as his witnesses?
Yes.
We are told that there are actually 3 witnesses on earth;
(1Jo 5:8) And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. (NKJV)

So this again confirms the Spirit is a witness on earth; but how are water and blood witnesses?
Well, the preceding verse has the answer;
(1Jo 5:6) This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

So,
(1Jo 5:8) And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit (= one witness),
the water, and the blood (= Jesus = a second witness)…

So again, we still have confirmation that Jesus and the Spirit are witnesses on earth.

Do you remember who must initiate the killing of the wicked?
The witnesses.
And for Jesus to kill the wicked at His coming, what must he be?
A witness.
(2Ti 4:1) I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing ...
(Deu 17:7) The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death

Who records someone's rejection of God?
The Holy Spirit.
(Mat 12:31) Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

This is the purpose of the two witnesses, to testify as to someone's acceptance or rejection of God.
Notice again the results of rejecting these witnesses;
(Heb 10:28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
(Heb 10:29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God (the Word, the 1st witness), and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit (the 2nd witness) of grace?

Again we see 'the word' and 'the spirit', being trodden under foot, ie, being rejected. Notice yet again the condemning power of these two witnesses;
(Heb 6:4) It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, (1st witness)
(Heb 6:5) who have tasted the goodness of the word of God (2nd witness) …
(Heb 6:6) if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (NIV)

If one rejects 'the word' and the prompting of 'the spirit', then these 2 witnesses are capable of condemning that one to death. And by rejecting the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the truth presented from the Word, is exactly why the wicked will perish;
(2Th 2:10) …and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And as we have already seen, it is Jesus who destroys the wicked at His Coming;
(Rev 19:21) And the remnant (of the wicked) were slain with the sword of him (Jesus) that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth…

How then, will 'the word' be presented to all mankind that they may accept or reject it?
In times past, the word was proclaimed through people.
Notice John the Baptist was given 'the spirit and power of Elijah' to 'bear witness' of the word.
He was the 'vessel' through which 'the Word' was being proclaimed to others;
(Joh 1:6-8) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light (Jesus, The Word), that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

Although John is referred to as a witness, there is another witness at work here. John 'bears witness' of 'the Light' (which as we saw earlier, represents 'the Word').

The following verses support 'the Word' being a witness. Again in this case, the apostle John 'bears witness' to the people;
(1Jo 1:1) …concerning the Word of life- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness,… (ASV)
(Rev 1:1-2) The Revelation of Jesus Christ,…to His servant John, who bore witness to the word(NKJV)

In these instances, we see the witness is not 'the person', but 'The Word' that God has put within the person;
(1Jo 5:10) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself

So why can't Jesus just proclaim His truth directly to all people as a witness?
His own words answer this question;
(Joh 5:31-33) If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

Condensing the facts

To tie the identity, purpose and period of the Two Witnesses' properly together, is difficult without one fundamental understanding. This understanding ties the whole of Revelation's story together, in the same way found in the Book of Daniel. Something was sealed up in the Book of Daniel till the time of the end;
(Dan 12:9) And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

We know that it was not prophecy itself sealed up, because the wise men could only have known the time of Jesus' birth from these prophecies. So what was sealed up in the book of Daniel?
The answer is fulfilment of many of Daniel's prophecies, within which are some 'rules of interpretation'; needed to correctly assemble the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Daniel was interpreted by the Angel Gabriel; Revelation is not.

To explain:
In the prophecy of Daniel 2 there is a metal statue, with different metals representing the successive kingdoms, which were to come. Later in another prophecy in Daniel 7, there are different beasts, and later in Daniel 8, yet another prophecy of a ram and goat fighting.
Now although these appear (due to the different descriptive means) to be completely different stories, each story relates to the same time period and sequence of events within that period. Compare Dan 2:40 (legs of iron) & Dan 7:23 (terrible beast), which BOTH represent 'the 4th kingdom on earth'.

One prophecy on its own provides limited information; but when 'overlaid' with the other prophecies, these stories reveal the full details of a well-engineered plan, set within a prescribed time frame.

From this architecture some simple rules can be derived. Amazingly, the exact same structure is found in the book of Revelation (and in other places in the Bible).
It is doubtful that this same structure appears in Revelation by accident.

(Rev 22:10) Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
God did not 'seal up' the book of Revelation, because He knew it couldn't be properly understood until 'the time of the end', when the 'rules' within Daniel were unsealed.

As with Daniel, within each prophecy of Revelation, the events occur in the order they are written.
By locating the beginning and ending point of each prophetic block, you establish each prophecy.
The linking points within each prophecy are then quite easy to find, and these are needed to correctly align each prophetic sequence with regards to time.

Following is an example of a linking point;
(Rev 6:14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
(Rev 16:20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Although the above verses are ten chapters apart, within their own prophetic block, they relate to the same event and the same point in time.
Linking points like this are scattered throughout Revelation.

To tie together the 'Two Witnesses' story, there are two main prophecies we need to look at; Rev 10:1 -11:19 and Rev 7:1 - 8:1.
Pay careful attention to the 'servants' in these following verses;
(Rev 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Rev 10:7 …But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
(Rev 11:18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints…
(Rev 16:6) For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

Who are these prophets who are killed by people who are alive during the 7 last plagues?

Answer; The 144,000 'Servants the Prophets', being the coming 'vessels' of 'the Word'.

Just prior to the First Coming, John the Baptist was the vessel within whom was 'the spirit and power of Elijah'.
Just prior to the Second Coming, again the Two Witnesses will work through, or 'empower' the 144,000 'servants the prophets'.

'Servants the prophets' being empowered by the Holy Spirit so they can prophesy, is recorded in the Old Testament;
(Joel 2:28) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…,And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Perhaps indicating that the 144,000 could be both men and women).

(Neh 9:30) Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear:…

The following verse is also an interesting one. Although Jesus was speaking to the Apostles, the question He was asked related to the time of the end; the 'coming of the kingdom'.
(Act 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

First the 144,000 are sealed;
(Rev 7:3) …Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God

A parallel prophecy to this event, signifying how the 144,000 will be sealed and empowered, is where the apostle John eats the little book (Rev 10:1 - 11:19).
This prophetic sequence signifies how each of the 144,000 will receive 'the Word'.
Ezekiel was also given God's Word and Spirit in this way (see Eze 3).
We often see these two entities working together in God's people;
(Isa 59:21) My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth,…

Each of the 144,000 will have the nature of Jesus (the Word) imparted and sealed in their hearts and minds.
The prophecy about the three angel messages signifies what they will be proclaiming during the 1260 days.

How does this work?
Let's look at a small sample of verses to see how things begin to fit together.

- The Two Witnesses (working through 144,000 'Johns') will condemn to death all those who refuse the final gospel proclamation given during the Great Tribulation.
The whole purpose of the Two Witnesses is to test those living during the Great Tribulation, so that Jesus can justifiably execute those who reject their message.

Notice what happens when you 'overlay' the details from the prophecy about the 144,000, into the following 'Two Witnesses' prophecy;
(Rev 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses (The Word and Holy Spirit), and they shall prophesy (through the 144,000 servants the prophets) a thousand two hundred and threescore (1260 literal) days, clothed in sackcloth (signifying distressing circumstances).

The Two Witnesses will empower the 144,000 with the message in 'the little book' for one purpose:
(Mat 24:14) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
(This is a story like Gideon's army of 300, taking on 120,000 men. But by the power of God, they did succeed!!!).

Continuing with our prophecy;
(Rev 11:5) And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth (the 144,000 prophets), and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
You may ask; how does fire come out of the mouths of the prophets?
Notice this parallel;
(Jer 5:14) Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye (Jeremiah) speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

Continuing;
(Rev 11:6) These (the 144,000) have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy (like how Elijah the prophet stopped rain for over 3 years during his testimony): and have power over waters to turn them to blood (like how Moses was given power to strike Egypt with plagues during his testimony), and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

(Rev 11:7) And when they shall have finished their testimony (1260 days into the tribulation period), the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit (being the king of the Abyss [Satan himself] appearing as Jesus; the Lamb-like beast of Rev 13) shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them (the 144,000).

(Rev 11:8) And their (144,000) dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city (Babylon, see Rev 18:10), which spiritually is called Sodom (representing unrestrained evil) and Egypt (representing hardness of heart), where also our Lord was crucified. (This is referring to the spiritual condition that crucified Christ; not the physical location).

(Rev 11:9) And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see (notice they are visible) their (144,000) dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves (notice they require literal graves).

(Rev 11:10) And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two (messengers from God, working through the 144,000) prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth (with their message of truth).

(Rev 11:11) And after three days and a half the Spirit of life (ingredient required to resurrect man) from God entered into them (the 144,000), and they stood upon their feet (notice they have literal feet); and great fear fell upon them which saw them (ie. they are visible).

(Rev 11:12) And they (the 144,000) heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

(Rev 11:13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant (of the righteous) were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

You will notice at this point, the 144,000 are taken to heaven.
You will also notice that this is not yet the Second Coming. (set to occur in the 1335th day, see Dan 12:12).

In another parallel prophetic sequence; the 144,000 are confirmed as being in heaven prior to the Second Coming;
(Rev 14:1) And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads (Remember earlier on, they were sealed on their foreheads).
(Rev 14:3) And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders (the throne, living creatures and the elders, show this event is in Heaven): and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
(Rev 14:4) …These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

And if these 144,000 are presented as 'firstfruits' of the great harvest to follow, and they follow Jesus wherever He goes, we would expect they would return with Him at the Second Coming. Again this is confirmed;

(1Th 3:13) To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all HIS saints.
(Jud 1:14) And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (or let's say 144,000 to be exact).

As we saw earlier, the 144,000 servants the prophets were faithful to death;
(Rev 20:4) …and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God…

3/ When do they perform their purpose?

The 144,000 are 'firstfruits' of the great harvest, which is to occur at the Second Coming;
(Rev 14:4) …These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

A study of the Old Testament reveals 'firstfruits' were a representative sample of the main harvest to follow, they were always presented on a Sunday and brought in to the house of the Lord;
(Exo 34:26) The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.

But notice who the firstfruits belonged to;
(Eze 44:30) And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's:…

The 144,000, being 'firstfruits' of the great harvest of the Second Coming will belong to our High Priest.
And our High Priest is now who?
Jesus.
So the 144,000 belong to whom?
Jesus.
Hence;
(Rev 14:4) These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

We are told 12,000 are sealed of each tribe of Israel;
(Rev 7:4) …a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

A common question is; "are these from literal or spiritual Israel?"
We know the 'great multitude' of which the 144,000 are a representative sample, are from all nations;
(Rev 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne…

If you have a harvest of barley, what would be the firstfruits of it?
Would you present apples as the firstfruits?
Of coarse not.
If the great multitude come from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues; where would the firstfruits come from?
All nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues!!!

The fact of the matter is, that all the saved are 'spiritual' Israel. Every saved person will belong to one of the twelve tribes, and are Israel. There are only twelve gates entering into the Holy City. There is not a 13th gate with 'others' or 'gentiles' written on it. So when 12,000 are sealed from each tribe, there is no limitation to which nations, tribes, peoples and tongues they are selected from.

Timing!

For this we need to consider the verses surrounding the sealing of these 144,000;
(Rev 7:1) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth (winds of harm), that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

Who are these four Angels who will harm the earth, the sea, and trees?
We will soon establish from Rev 8, that they are the 4 angels with the first 4 trumpets.
(Rev 7:2) And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
(Rev 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
(Rev 7:4) And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand…

The key verse to timing is verse 3.
(Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants (the prophets) of our God on their foreheads).

But first we need to look at the story of seven angels having seven trumpets; look at the corresponding events;

(Rev 8:2) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
(Rev 8:7) The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
(Rev 8:8) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;…

You will notice from Revelation 7's "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees" that these are the same items being harmed during the first 4 trumpets.
The first four angels receive a command to not hurt these things until the sealing of the 144,000 has occurred. This means the events of the first four trumpets cannot occur until after the sealing of the 144,000.

God has given the trumpets numbers, so we can pay attention to the number and order of their fulfilment.
For example, trumpet # 6 can not occur before trumpet # 2, and so on.
It is also logical that each trumpet will only occur once (as with the 7 seals).

Not only can we tell from the description of the first four trumpets, that they are designed to inflict 'harm' upon the earth, sea and trees; we are also told from the first 4 angels holding these first four trumpets, that their purpose is to 'harm' the earth, sea and trees;
(Rev 7:2) the four angels (with the first four trumpets), to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

So we have seen from the first 4 trumpets, that the earth, the sea and the trees suffer harm.
(We consider this harm to be literal, but whether you believe this to be literal harm, or figurative harm, it still produces the same result in establishing timing).

Having looked at the first 4 trumpets of Rev 8:7-12, where do we find trumpet # 5,6,7?
Actually, they are in the verse following the 4th trumpet.
The last three trumpets are three 'woes', one for each trumpet;
(Rev 8:13) And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! (4+3 =7 angels).

The 5th trumpet is the 1st of the 3 woes (the first 4 trumpets having then been);
(Rev 9:1) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
Scripture confirms the 5th trumpet is the first woe;
(Rev 9:12) One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

The 6th trumpet is the 2nd woe;
(Rev 9:13) And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
And again, Scripture confirms this is so;
(Rev 11:14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The 7th trumpet is the last woe;
(Rev 11:15) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven…

The reason we have brought these woes to your attention, is to establish the timing of the Two Witnesses.
Notice the timing when the Two Witnesses finish their testimony (ie, when the 1260 days end);
(Rev 11:7-14) And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit (being Satan appearing as Jesus, Rev 13:11, Rev 9:11) shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them… And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud… and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

This clearly shows the testimony of the Two Witnesses ends around the time of the 2nd woe, being the 6th trumpet, and before the 3rd woe, being the 7th trumpet.
As established earlier, this is yet future, as the trumpets cannot begin until after the sealing of the 144,000.

Notice what else happens just prior to the first trumpet;
(Rev 8:5) And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

We see here that a censer is cast upon the earth, just before the trumpets begin; but what is the significance of this censer?
Notice the following;
(Num 16:46) And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.

This is about making 'corporate' atonement for the congregation of Israel;
(Num 28:22) And one goat for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you. Ye shall offer these beside the burnt offering in the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering. After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days…

The purpose of this 'daily' (Sacrifice on Earth) was for the atonement of sin for the camp of Israel as a whole. This is an example, to signify what is happening in the heavenly sanctuary. The 'daily' makes atonement for corporate (i.e. global) sin, to hold back the wrath of God from a sinning world (you can study this in Lev 4).
Jesus as our High Priest (who performs a 'daily' in the heavenly sanctuary), is currently atoning for sin on a global scale.
What would you expect to happen to people on earth if this 'daily' in heaven ceased?

It would signify the wrath of God being released upon mankind. This wrath is the sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, the judgments God uses when man fills his cup of iniquity.
As an example;
(Eze 14:13) Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:…
(Eze 14:21) For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?

When a land (OR the world) sins against God, four types of death will occur.
They are: Sword, famine, wild beasts and pestilence.
Was it real death or figurative death?
Real death!

Notice this parallel for our time;
(Rev 6:7) And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.?

The opening of the 4th seal, coincides with the 'daily' in Heaven being taken away and the censer being cast down;
(Dan 12:11) And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days (1290 days).
Dan 12:12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days (1335).

It is important to note the word 'sacrifice' in the above verse has been added by translators. We don't know if the daily in heaven involves any type of sacrifice or not. Jesus made a sacrifice once for all.
Just as atonement was made for an individual's sin (at the altar of burnt offerings in the earthly sanctuary), from the time of commencement of the Tribulation (when there is no more 'daily'), it is likely that individual atonement for sin is only available through direct prayer to our high priest, Jesus.

The taking away of the 'daily' also coincides with the commencement of the 'harm' inflicted by the trumpet judgements. A quarter of earth's population will perish at the commencement of the Great Tribulation, when 'daily' atonement ceases;
(Rev 6:8) …And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.?

This is a powerful way for God to get the attention of the survivors, so they will carefully consider the message that the 144,000 will begin to proclaim at that time.
If someone empowered with God's Word, stood on a street corner today proclaiming truth, how many would give careful consideration to his words?
How many would consider the words, after the devastating effects of the first 4 trumpets and its associated effects, have killed a quarter of the world's population?
Remember that they ONLY have 1260 days to deliver their message (from when God gets the worlds attention);
(Rev 11:2) …and the holy city shall they (the gentiles) tread under foot forty and two months (1260 days).
Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days(1260 days).

The conclusion of these being future events, is supported by an understanding of the Jubilee calendar.
The 'day for a year' principle was first introduced with the commandment to keep the Jubilee calendar.
The 'day for a year' is not used in prophecy prior to the commencement of the Jubilee calendar.
It is therefore possible that the 'day for a year' principle doesn't apply after the Jubilee calendar ended; which occurred late last century.

Hence the 'day for a year' principle does not apply to future prophecy.
Trying to apply the 'day for a year' principle to end time prophecies will create problems.
For example the millennium of 1000 years becomes 360,000 years.

We hope you will thoughtfully consider this small sample of how Revelation's prophesies link together, when properly overlaid with each other. It is a wonderful message to behold, when a full study of this concept is attained. You are left with no doubt that God structured Revelations prophecies this way for a reason. There is no guesswork on mans part; if you will allow it, Revelation will tell it's own story.
[Read full study on understanding Revelation here: Understanding Revelation ].

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