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Sunday: Two Witnesses — 36 Comments

  1. I am sure that most of us are familiar with the arguments given in today's lesson that the "Two Witnesses" are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. And we are all familiar with the notion that these books were largely hidden from view during the Dark Ages, only to come to light during the Reformation. However, despite the ready availability of the Bible in multiple versions and formats, it is largely ignored as an anachronistic artifact of the past.

    If you visit many of the world's cathedrals today, you will often find historical relics from the church's antiquity. Some of the English churches still have copies of The Great Bible, typically opened and behind security glass. While I recognise these Bibles are priceless artefacts that should be preserved, it is not the physical book itself but its message that is meaningful and important.

    We can make all sorts of arguments about the effect of science and society on our modern perception of the Bible but we need to take the argument to ourselves with the question, Do we live a meaningful life that shows how important the Bible is to us? I don't mean just arguing the case for the Bible but living the principles that the Bible makes clear to us.

    The only Bible many people will read is how we live and interact with them. I am reminded that in ancient times most people did not read. The witness of God's Word was necessarily through God's people. And today things have not changed all that much.

    Defend the Bible by all means but remember:

    "By this shall all men know ..."

    • Is it possible that the two witnesses are God’s Word, and His people who allow the Spirit of God to bring The Word to life through them?
      “You are the light of the world…”
      “By this shall all men know…”
      “The whole earth will be filled with the glory of God…”

      • That seems credible to me too, Gary. I hope it’s okay with our dear brother Maurice Ashton to quote him in an SSNet post he wrote on 2/13/2019 on the same topic of the 2 witnesses. He says something similar. That lesson was called “The Seven Trumpets”.

        “The notion of two witnesses is a powerful one, but I agree that applying them to the Old and New Testament is perhaps a little artificial. An idea that I would like to explore is that one witness is the Biblical revelation of God and the other witness is the "community of believers". By the "community of believers", I mean those who have a personal relationship with Jesus. The whole persecution scene becomes more understandable if we think that the most powerful witness for Jesus is a changed life directed to serving others through their relationship with Jesus. This is the witness that political Christianity despises so much because it values freedom rather than subservience to their selfish political goals. Perhaps it is an idea worth exploring a little more.”

        • What are you talking about? It is very clear that the two witnesses are the old and new testament inspired by the holy spirit.
          The two olive trees are the word of God . Zechariah 4:6, 14 and Revelation 11:4

          • I don't have a problem with your interpretation Carmen. My paragraph Esther quoted above was written in the context of us taking seriously our role as witnesses to God's love. While a historical interpretation is useful, an application that helps us understand our responsibility is also informative. It is worth remembering that for some people the only Bible they will ever read is the life of a committed Christian. We are his wintnesses.

  2. Connecting the lamps to the trees is intended to symbolize a constant, spontaneous, automatic supply of oil flowing from the olive trees into the lamps. That symbolizes the truth that God will not bring salvation blessing from human power and human works, but by the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit ( Zech. 4:6).

    The 5 foolish bridesmaids wouldn’t have needed to go out last minute to try to buy oil for their lamps if they were connected to the power of the Holy Spirit. But then, I remember that the 5 wise bridesmaids had also fallen asleep and therefore their lamps went out too. They had nodded off and momentarily lost their conscious connection with the Holy Spirit also. But they had brought oil in reserve. How can we store up the Holy Spirit? Maybe this is storing the word of God , both OT and NT, in our hearts, which awakens us out of our slumber? And fuels us to light the way for the bridegroom’s return…

  3. The prophecy cited in Zechariah is about the rebuilding of the temple and the re-establishment of Jerusalem as a city. Zerubbabel (the son of Shealtiel) is the governor of Judah and Jeshua/Joshua (the son of Josedech) is the high priest. In the context of Zechariah’s prophecy, it would make a lot more sense to suggest that “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:14 NASB1995) The rationale for this prophecy is the coming of “My servant the Branch” (Zechariah 3:8). To make Zechariah’s prophecy a link to the Old and New Testaments (a completely artificial construct) appears to stretch believability past its limit.

    Nevertheless, John the Revelator is clearly looking to Zechariah’s prophecy in Revelation 11, but the author’s linkage to the Bible and the French Revolution is not credible. Note Revelation 11:8. Our Lord was not crucified in Paris, France during the French Revolution.

    No wonder the lesson’s author states, “we can conclude (not dogmatically, however) that the two witnesses are the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.” This interpretation does not appear to credible and looks to be proof texting at its worst.

    • The Bible is speaking of a place that is "spiritually" Sodom and Egypt where Christ is crucified. Denying his existence and resisting his commands as Egypt did and as France. Also the characteristics of Sodom so displayed by France during the revolution.
      Also many prophesies given in the Bible pertain to the more current times and to the end times also.
      Ellen White says in The Great Controversy that the quote of where also our Lord was crucified specifies of the prophecy being fulfilled by France. She says

      "In no land had the spirit of enmity against Christ been more strikingly displayed. In no country had the truth encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. And the persecution which France had visited upon the confessors of the gospel, she had crucified Christ in the person of his disciples."

      This is true whether you read about it in her writings or historical writings.
      Whether or not one can emphatically state that the two witnesses are the Old and New Testaments, this explanation makes the most sense to me in light of the description of the two witnesses in the Bible and the historical events.. your statement regarding it representing Zerubbabel and Joshua may have been for that time but there appears to be a future prophecy also in that prophecy.
      Just my personal reflections.

    • Richard, do you have a more "credible" interpretation of the "two witnesses" that fit the description in Revelation and a more credible location than France during the French Revolution as "the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, swhere also our Lord was crucified"?

      Reviewing what happened during and after the French Revolution persuades me that that time and place is a very good fit for the prophecy in Revelation, and I'm not aware of a better explanation based on the Bible and history.

      (I realize there are other creative interpretations, but I'm interested in historical fulfillment that fits the flow of the Revelation prophetic narrative. If you have one, please share.)

      • Hello Inge,

        I have spent some time thinking about the linkage between Revelation 11, Zechariah 3-4 and Haggai, but my thinking on this is still quite rough. The rebuilding and restoration of the temple and Jerusalem are necessary precursors to the coming of the Messiah (my Servant, the Branch). Zerubbabel and Joshua are instrumental in accomplishing this work, as are Nehemiah, Ezra, Cyrus and Artaxerxes who are their contemporaries. God is working not just in his people, but in those powerful people with whom they associate. All this is necessary because the Adversary is also working to thwart the will of God, which is the deliverance and salvation of all who are calling on the name of the Lord.

        In Revelation 11, God is working to prepare the way for the second coming of his Messiah (see the seventh trumpet). In preparation for this event, there is an Elijah message and a Moses message. For many these are messages of torment, but for others it brings them to an awe of God and they give him glory (Revelation 11:13). (In this, I see an echo of the first angel’s message.) The messages of Moses and Elijah are designed by God to bring those he calls to reconciliation, specifically, his church—his called out ones—those called out of every nation, tongue and people. This is an essential precursor to the Messiah’s second advent.

        It is all about Jesus, not about the French Revolution.


        • Indeed, it is all about Jesus. He is the living Word of God, but the written Word is also all about Him and Satan has waged war against the written word since it first appeared. See my post, "The Two Witnesses Revisited." There's nothing wrong with equating the Elijah message and a Moses message with "two witnesses," because these messages are also the "Word of God." However in the flow of Revelation, there's a very specific fit with the written Word of God.

    • It is clear from the bible texts in today's lesson and footnote bible texts from the passages in the lesson that the Holy Spirit is one of the two witnesses. The Holy Spirit is identified as the oil from the olive trees that keeps the lamplights burning. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth and convicts us of sin.

      The Word of God (Old AND New Testament) is the LAMP unto our feet and the LIGHT unto our path.
      God's Word is truth. It is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

      As we open the scripture, the very words that we read can convict us of our sins and guide us into all truth. The work of the Holy Spirit is the same.

      It is important to include ALL of scripture in our bible studies. Jesus said of the Old Testament: "These are they which testify of Me".

    • Richard - your comment intrigued me so I started reading the book of Zachariah from the beginning to help me better understand the setting of this prophecy. I have to agree with your findings, as the context for Zechariah Chapter 3 seems to be establish by Zechariah 1:3-6;16.

      Reading Zechariah Chapter 3 seems to establish that Joshua, the high priest, is being anointed as the ‘branch’, and his ‘fellows that sit before him’ to be the leaders in the newly build Jerusalem – Zech.6:10-15. Thank you for pointing this out. This supports the finding that Revelation Chapter 11 relates to Zechariah Chapter 1 to establish its purpose.

      I also read Zechariah Chapter 4 and found additional answers to the Lampstand and the Holy Spirit - the Word of God and the two olive branches feeding the lampstand.

    • The books of Daniel and Revelation are not easily understood by the biblical novice because they draw symbols from the rest of Scripture. Thus, those who are not familiar with the rest of Scripture lack the keys to unlock the prophetic books.

      In fact, the symbolism in Revelation is often drawn from actual entities and events in the the Old Testament. If we understand the nature of the entities and the events in the Old Testament, they provide a key to the interpretation of the symbols in The Revelation. In that way, the Bible largely interprets itself and thus guards against speculative interpretations not anchored in reality. (But then, that doesn't seem to stop people from speculating anyway! 😉)

  4. I am satisfied that the New and the Old testement are the two witnesses. After all both the OT and the NT prophecy of 1260 years of papal supremacy. Both are important testimony to the origin of the law of God. Both are witnesses also to the plan of salvation. It would make sense that they are the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11 and Zechariah 4.

  5. Two witnesses are better than a single one. Two witnesses help me better decide which side to take. Why would a God leave me doubting? He gives me two different reasons to always trust in Him!

  6. We are supposed to live in the Word and God will always be on our side if we choose to live and be obedient to His Word.

  7. The two witnesses (The OT and the NT ) are our reference materials,with them in our hands we shall grow spiritually.

    Just asking if having bible apps is good or we must just do the hard copy ones?

    • Either media is just as good. However the real test is whether you havve them written in your heart so that you live in the love of God. I have access to about 40 translations of the Bible, but if I don't let them change my heart they are useless. As I quoted earlier in the week, Jesus told the Pharisees:

      You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, John 5:39 NIV

      It is not what the Bible is written on that counts; if is finding a relationship with the author, Jesus.

    • Hi Elsie . Personally I prefer a hard copy though bible apps are good on the go (that is to say they're portible). Each time I try to use a bible apps,some notifications just pop-up ie tweeter,whatsapp and so on then I get distracted in a way

    • I like the Bible app in SSQ. On an ipad in landscape, it is side by side. Just click on the text in the lesson and instantaneously the Bible text appears on your right. While in SSQ I have no distractions other than the SS lesson.

  8. I learned that the lord, word is a lamp to my feet and is the light in our path in life, and that we should pray & study GOD, words and have faith in GOD, and GOD, word, will be like fire in our month.

  9. I'll be honest, I'm not an expert on Revelation 11 and I have never studied it in depth, but I found it hard to be absolutely convinced that the two witnesses are the Old and New Testament. Some of the connections made in the lesson make sense, but the Bible doesn't have the power to cause plagues and send fire or rain (God behind the scriptures obviously does). Some of the connections seem to be a stretch. Also, the idea of the two testaments was not a reality when John wrote Revelation (though I realize that many prophecies point to the future so that doesn't eliminate the possibility). At that time, Scripture was the Old Testament - Moses and Elijah also tend to represent the Law and the Prophets. I guess I welcome further convincing here.

      • One day I'll have to do some more studying on this topic. Surprisingly it isn't a part of Revelation I really remember hearing much about unlike many of the other chapters. A lot of what you say make sense, but I continue to have some questions.

        • I suspect you may be thinking of "Revelation Seminars" to learn about Revelation. The unfortunate fact is that "Revelation Seminars" are not seminars on Revelation, but doctrinal studies with hooks in Revelation. You learn very little about Revelation in such seminars.
          But it's possible to do some digging for yourself and be richly rewarded. Your acquaintance with the rest of the Bible (especially the sanctuary services, Daniel and Ezekiel) will be really helpful if you seek to understand Revelation, because this book, which is actually in the form of a play with seven acts, draws much from the sanctuary services and the books of Daniel and Ezekiel.

          • So very true... I was baptized after a Revelation seminar, but you are right that it was not a full study of Revelation. Sadly, Adventists don't always like to study - (too much work!), but it is the best way to truly understand a text. I am indebted to my former pastor who took us through John verse by verse during prayer meeting over a 5 year period and didn't rush even when some attendees wanted him to. That is how I learned to really study the Bible carefully and slowly.

            My current project is to immerse myself in Jesus by studying the gospels (I've finished Mark and now on Matthew), but perhaps after that I will go to Revelation. I have heard it called the fifth gospel.

    • Christina and Richard,
      I am also finding it difficult to see the OT and NT in the vision given in Zechariah. How could Zechariah know about a New Testament? However, he would have been very familiar with the stories of Moses and Elijah. But I can't yet see how they would fit with the Rev. 11 prophecies.
      One other observation - on the Mount of Transfiguration, who were the two witnesses who stood beside Jesus as He appeared glorious? Moses and Elijah were there, talking to Him.

      • Please see if this helps: The Two Witnesses Revisited.

        Also consider that when there are "two witnesses" at a trial, and there are "two witnesses" at another trial, they are not necessarily the same persons. The context provides clues to who the "two witnesses" are. (But then, Moses and Elijah are not even called "two witnesses" in the Bible, and there is nothing to tie them to the prophecies in Zechariah 4 and in Revelation 11.)

      • Barbara, the lesson author does not say that the "two anointed ones" in Zechariah are the "Old and New Testament." He says that

        The olive trees feed oil into the lampstand so that it continues to give light. We are reminded of what the psalmist wrote: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalms 119:105, NKJV). Oil represents the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:2,6).

        In other words, he interprets the vision of Zechariah as seeing the Holy Spirit/ oil feeding the Lamp of truth, that is the Word of God. In those times, the written word would have been the Torah, or the Law and the Prophets.

        Then the author explains that in Revelation the same imagery is used and has a similar meaning. In the time after Christ, we have the two parts of the Bible - the Torah (which we generally call the Old Testament) and the part written by the disciples of Christ, which we call the New Testament.

        Regarding the Mount of Transfiguration, I believe you are referring to Matt. 17:1-5; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36. You can read these passages to find out who was there. How do you see these passages connected to the passages in Zechariah 4 and Revelation 11?

  10. We are told in Scripture whom God identifies as “spiritually called Sodom”- Jerusalem/Judah (Isa 1:9,10; 3:8,9; Jer 23:14,15; Ezk 16:44-52; Dt 29:23,24; Matt 11:24).
    It seems also that Christ identifies Jerusalem as the Babylon of Rev 18:24 in Matt 23:34-38.

  11. Iam very interest in reading and l want to know more about sabbath school lession discussions here which helps me to grow my spiritaul life.Thankyou.

  12. Many Christians today tend to downplay the Old Testament, to label it irrelevant and not needed, because we have the New Testament. What is so terribly wrong with that attitude?
    because Jesus said that the old testament speaks about Him It is important to read to understand character of God


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