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These are the ones

with the power to shut up the sky so no rain shall fall in the days of

their prophecy, and they have the power over the waters to turn them to blood, and [the power] to strike the earth with every kind of plague

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as often as they wish.


These are the witnesses I speak of, I am referring to


and Moses.



The Jews of John’s era would have seen here a clear reference to Jewish history, not a prediction for the future. This is another example of how the Jews would have looked back, while we look forward.

Elijah and Moses

The references to the historical Elijah and Moses are unmistakable; so at a bare minimum this passage refers to the ministry and example of those two men.

I believe it is reversed symbolism; instead of saying the name and having people think of what they did, it gives what they did so that people will think of their names, their high standing in the respect of the Jewish people, and the many other things they did; which are too many to mention.

However, there are things in this paragraph that point to the present and the future. So, as we see elsewhere in Revelation, it is quite likely a reference to the historical prophets, their ongoing influence, and possibly others who are fulfilling a similar ministry. Later, in verse 10 the use of past, present and future verbs is best interpreted as communicating that the prophetic ministry being spoken of stretches across all time starting with the time of Moses and reaching into the future.

We already have all the witnesses to God’s power that we need. If someone rejects what God has already offered, he can expect punishment. The words (and actions) of these two, Moses and Elijah, are enough to condemn anyone who does not obey the God who is the Lord of the earth. In Jewish thought Moses and Elijah represented the law and the prophets, which meant all of the Old Testament. It did not matter that Elijah was not one of the writing prophets, nor that the Jews had another section of Scripture called the “Writings,” which referred to what people today call the “wisdom literature,” (i.e. Job through Song of Solomon). The point is that God’s word is enough. Those of us who have been raised in a Christian context and have attended church most of our lives already have more light than we are living by. The problem is not that we need more light, we need to live by the light we already have.

During all times people have tried to diminish and destroy the influence of the Bible and the people described there (Revelation 11:10) because they are made to feel uncomfortable and convicted. That conviction is one of the key ministries of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8 “And when he comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment”). Evolution has been one of the most effective tools for accomplishing the purpose of diminishing the influence of the Bible.

This passage seems to indicate that God’s witness to us, through the influence of Elijah and Moses, or ones like them, will be destroyed and then it will be revived. Is it possible that this is referring to both a global event and a personal reality? Much of Revelation does just that, for it is an encouragement to each and every believer in his time of trial. The encouragement to each believer is the personal fulfillment, and the fact that it is for every believer down through time is the global fulfillment. Therefore, it would fit that in this case there would also be a personal as well as a global fulfilling of this passage. If that is true, it means that in each person there is a struggle over whether or not to believe the prophets and writers of the Bible. The Bible may suffer severely for a period of time, but God will use some means to revive the influence of His message in each person’s life. That will be followed either by rebellion and destruction, or by repentance and salvation. As mentioned before, all this demonstrates that God’s mercy is great, yet his punishment for rebellion is also great.

The same scenario that plays out in the lives of individuals is also a reality for the human race as a whole. The influence of the Bible and its characters is always under attack and in some places and times it seems like that influence is all but destroyed. However, God can use various means to revive that influence on a large scale once again. This does not mean that there will be global persecution for exactly 7 years; it means there is a trend of waning and reviving influence of God in our world. This has happened many times in human history. For mankind the possible consequences are the same as for the individual, either rebellion followed by punishment, or repentance and an acceptance of God’s grace followed by salvation from judgment.

The fact that God’s two key witnesses prophecy for 1260 days (which is the same as 42 months or 3 ½ years) means that their time of testifying will be cut short. This seems to come from the reality of the great struggle between God’s message (truth) and Satan’s message (deception). However, we can be confident that even a shortened time of exposure to God’s message is enough because God is a righteous judge and He will not judge unjustly. God has left a witness for Himself in many ways (including nature) and He knows which ones each individual has been exposed to.