THE TWO WITNESSES (Part II)
Other than the magnificent return of Jesus Christ to rescue the world from annihilation and to set up his kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace, one of the greatest showdowns ever witnessed by mankind will pit the Antichrist and his false prophet against two mighty prophets of God… Moses and Elijah. Just as the Antichrist beast of Revelation (Nero) and his statue will spellbound those left behind at the Rapture by his improbable return from the grave, as the world will see it (he actually reappears from the Abyss); so, too, will the Two Witnesses dumbfound billions with their incredibly mysterious return from the ancient past. Just as the False Prophet will amaze and intimidate the earth’s population with powerful signs and wonders; so, too, will Moses stun the world with miracles not seen since the Exodus or since Elijah soundly defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.
With the Scriptural documentation presented in last week’s article that focused on the astonishing correlation between what the two witnesses of Revelation 11 will do and what Elijah and Moses did during their prophetic service for God thousands of years ago, I believe we have established a near irrefutable premise THAT these two extraordinary prophets are, in fact, the two witnesses of Revelation. Now it’s time to provide evidence demonstrating WHY Moses and Elijah will be God’s choice as the two lampstands, the two olive trees; indeed, the two witnesses/prophets that will do supernatural battle with Satan’s dynamic, but totally depraved, duo. Let’s begin with:
It’s one of the most fascinating and well-known events of Scripture, one that is taught in Sunday school classes all over the world … at least it used to be taught! To what do you think I’m referring—pertaining to, of course, Elijah, and more specifically his final days on earth? My guess is that some readers already guessed it. But, if not, then here we go:
“Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River. Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground! When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’ ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah replied. ‘If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t’” (II Kings 2:7-10).
*Note: The text clearly tells us that Elijah already knew what was about to take place. And the preceding verses inform us that Elisha and dozens of other Jewish prophets also knew that Elijah was to be taken (although they didn’t know when or how it would happen or where Elijah would be taken or what would happen after that) by the Lord.
Sure enough. Right then and there it happened!
“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11).
All of God’s miracles are awesome, but a handful are off the charts. Elijah’s extraordinary exit from this earth may just be one of those top ten. Now that we’ve been reminded of this real life beam me up spectacle (for the very young readers … refer to Star Trek), there are some relevant questions to ask and answer and observations to be made:
A Better Understanding of Elijah’s Departure from the Earth
The first question and answer will be presented by quoting an excerpt from by book, Out of the Abyss. “To what destination was Elijah transported? Correct: to heaven … Moreover a flaming chariot carried him. Obviously this was a heavenly chariot and heavenly team of horses capable of transferring Elijah to heaven … Talk about a joy ride! Beats any roller coaster, race car, speed boat, supersonic jet, or spaceship known to man. As is said, ‘What a way to go!’”
It may surprise you to know that many Christians, even those who read the Bible on a regular basis, have difficulty answering—off the top of their head—the question of Elijah’s ultimate destination, including me many years ago; even though it should be fairly obvious. They’re very familiar with the story of how he was taken, but aren’t sure exactly where Elijah ended up in/with the chariot of fire. If you know where he was taken, then say it aloud right now. If you don’t, then read the passage again, or simply refer to the quote from Out of the Abyss in the preceding paragraph.
Yes, Elijah was taken to heaven. Before you say, “duh,” think about the implication of someone, anyone transported to heaven in that fashion—or any manner in which there are dozens of witnesses. If you do, the first thing that might come to mind is that such an event is unusual … to say the least. More like, “are you kidding me!”
Next question: Was Elijah alive or dead when he was whisked away to heaven? Okay, I realize that’s not only an easy question; it borders on being mundanely simple. But I ask it to emphasize what’s taking place here: the fact that the prophet Elijah was transported to heaven in his earthly body! Not only is the event itself a mind-boggling miracle, so is the very idea of someone leaving this earth without experiencing death. And, we’re not talking about a space flight to the moon!
Although it’s obvious that Elijah was removed from the earth alive, physically intact, I’m underscoring how often something like this doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s never occurred before or since, except for one time. Do you remember who else was taken (also to heaven) without dying? Correct: Enoch … see Genesis Chapter 5 and Hebrews Chapter 11.
Concerning Enoch, some Bible scholars and students believe he will be the other Revelation 11 witness/prophet alongside Elijah, for the very fact just covered … they both were taken from the earth without dying. Time/space does not permit in this article, except to say the following about Enoch, compared to Moses and Elijah as the two appropriate choices.
– Unlike Moses and Elijah who were prophets (as are the two witnesses), Scripture does not indicate that Enoch was a prophet, in the context of how prophets are defined and described in Scripture.
– Moses and Elijah were the two men who attended and spoke with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, not Enoch. This is tremendously significant, as I believe (and will demonstrate later in this article) the very fact that it was Moses and Elijah with Christ on the mountaintop further validates them as the two Revelation witnesses.
– Enoch is the one exact, exclusive prototype of born-again believers who will be taken in the rapture, prior to God’s second judgment of the earth during the Great Tribulation. Enoch was taken from the earth prior to the first monumental judgment of God … the Great Flood.
– And, of course, as explained in last week’s article, the God empowered miracles that Moses and Elijah performed while on the earth are identical to the magnificent exploits of the two witnesses for 3 ½ years during the Tribulation.
Back to Elijah. Let’s examine an astounding phenomenon that I alluded to earlier: The fact that Elijah (and Moses) appeared in bodily form with Christ … as the disciples Peter, James, and John watched in utter amazement. I can assure you both from the text and the context of this remarkable event, that Moses and Elijah were NOT spirits. None of the gospel accounts indicate in any way, shape, or form that Moses and Elijah appeared as spirits. In fact, how could Elijah be merely a spirit if he left the earth in his physical body? And later on we’ll see how that applies also to Moses, even though he died!
Plus, departed spirits of human beings cannot, therefore, do not reappear on the earth. This is God’s chosen way of things pertaining to the multiple dimensions he’s created, as well as his template for the human race following Adam and Eve’s disobedience which resulted in both spiritual death and physical death (separation of soul/spirit from the body). But God didn’t leave man is such an eternal mess, that we’ve made for ourselves. Through believing and receiving his Son, Messiah Jesus, all those who die will one day be reunited body and spirit, into a whole new glorified spiritual body (I Corinthians 15). For now, however, we humans are confined to the dimension of space and time as they exist on this earth. Angels (and demons who are fallen angels) have access between physical earthly dimensions and heavenly/spiritual zones.
Spirits and Ghosts
Nowhere in Scripture do we find evidence of anyone returning to earth as a spirit … a ghost. It just doesn’t happen. Sorry, Casper; no matter how friendly of a fictitious ghost you were, there will never be any “real” ghosts on this planet … not the kind that is someone’s disembodied apparition. Those kind of things must be relegated to science fiction and/or Hollywood, such as the movie Ghost, with Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore.
That also applies to Samuel, as King Saul observed the departed/dead prophet as a man with a body, not as some eerie phantom. Samuel’s physical appearance is even described by the witch of Endor to Samuel. You might want to glance I Samuel 28: 11-14, to see first-hand how stunned the witch of Endor was at the actual physical reappearance of Samuel; which, in and of itself, is a rare exception allowed by God, concerning reappearance of someone who has died. Plus, the Lord didn’t (permanently) raise Samuel from the dead at that time.
The witch was accustomed to seeing spirits; however, these spirits were not actually human beings. They were demons. When the witch saw Samuel, she described him to Saul as a god. She simply didn’t know how else to explain what was happening. I’ve often wondered if this witch gave up witchcraft after experiencing the real thing … meaning an actual person and his body (temporarily) returning from the dead, rather than demonic spirits imitating someone who had died.
In that regard, I do believe that demon spirits (fallen angels) can and have occasionally taken the form of a person, whose family/friends wanted to communicate with, via occult séances and the like. But, it is not the person they’re seeing … it’s a demonic impersonation. A good example is the story of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, both of whom had died. Even though the rich man presented a perfectly logical reason to return to the earth (to warn his brothers about hell), he was not allowed to do so in any form—physical, spiritual, or otherwise.
When those who believe in Christ (including those who believed in the promise of his coming before he came to earth as the chosen Messiah) die, their spirits immediately go to heaven; awaiting the Rapture resurrection of the dead and a glorified body equipped to live in Heaven for all eternity. Sadly, for those who refuse to accept Christ as their personal Savior, their spirits go to Hades (hell), also awaiting resurrection at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20) and then everlasting banishment to the Lake of Fire. But departed spirits of believers or unbelievers do not remain on or roam the earth or return to the earth. That simply cannot be found in Scripture.
So, if anyone tells you they’ve actually seen a ghost, please don’t tell them not to worry, or be afraid. They have every reason to be concerned. Because if they truly did see an apparition, you can bet it was a demon trying to or actually taking the (rough) form of someone who has died. Satan and his demons have this kind of limited power … for now.
The Resurrection of the Dead
To further understand the shocking implication of the bodily appearance of Elijah and Moses with Christ, we need to remember that the glorious transfiguration of Jesus took place before he arose from the dead after his cruel death on the cross. Scripture is crystal clear that Jesus would be and actually was the very first to arise from the dead, with the new, eternal resurrection body that would last forever. I italicized the last portion of this statement to emphasize that there were a handful of others who were raised from the dead by Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and of course, Jesus. But those raised from the dead (at the time) did, in fact, die again. In other words, they were raised with their earthly bodies and then died again with those same bodies. Not until the sacrificial death of Christ would anyone be raised from the dead with everlasting bodies like our Lord possesses in heaven right now as we speak.
Mostly, this will take place at the Rapture; however, the gospel of Matthew indicates that some arose from their graves in Jerusalem immediately after Christ died on the cross. Once Christ died, the resurrection was a given … as declared by the Scriptures and as purposed by God from the beginning of time. That doesn’t make the resurrection any less spectacular and supernatural. It’s just that when Christ (who is God) said he would be tortured, crucified, buried, but rise the third day … that’s exactly what he meant and that’s precisely what would and did happen!
Thus, there’s no way that Elijah or Moses could have been spirits or have appeared in their eternal resurrected bodies on the Mount of Transfiguration, as Christ hadn’t yet died and arisen from the grave. In fact, both Moses and Elijah are still awaiting (as are all believers in Christ, both dead and alive) their new, everlasting “spiritual bodies.” Please see I Corinthians Chapter 15 for Paul’s amazing explanation of the different types of bodies throughout God’s creation.
Which totally qualifies Elijah and Moses as two heavenly beings who stand before the Lord of all the earth, as recorded by Zechariah and then by John in Revelation. The reason this appellation of heavenly beings is utilized is because the two olive trees (as symbolically portrayed by Zechariah and John in Revelation) have resided in heaven, but in their original earthly bodies!
They are heavenly beings because they currently dwell in heaven, but are (human) beings still in possession of their original body. And the reason the equally unusual designation of the Lord of all the earth is employed, relates to the power that Christ has over death and life on the earth; to the extent that he can make supernatural exceptions to the normal cycle of life and death, and provide a special place in heaven where Elijah and Moses exist in their earthly body until their appointed time to return during the Great Tribulation.
Thus, Christ is Lord of the earth when it came to taking Elijah from the earth without dying, and, as we soon shall see, reviving Moses after Moses died! Yes, you read that right. In next week’s article we’ll discover just how that happened by examining two other mysterious Biblical passages to support the choice of Moses, as one of the Two Witnesses, alongside Elijah.
Things to Ponder
“But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless … And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (I Corinthians 15: 12-20).
“On the way they were asking each other, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! … Now go and tell his disciples….’” (Mark 16: 3-7).
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!