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Topic: The Two Olive Branches : Moses and Elijah

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The Two Olive Branches : Moses and Elijah


And I answered again, and said unto him, What are these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these are? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."

Mat 17 "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him."

Through the years I have picked up bits and pieces concerning the identity of the Two Olive Branches who are commonly referred to as the Two Witnesses of Rev 11, so I figured that I would compile all these.

The identity of both of these witnesses is open to conjecture, so I will take one at a time, however some of the information is applicable to both of them and there may be some overlapping of information.

The First Witness

There are two main views and that is that it may be Enoch and the other that it may be Moses and a third view would be that both of these men are just raised up by God before the tribulation and that they are not one of the OT Saints.

Those who say it is Enoch do so by first ruling out Moses by quoting Heb 9:27, "as it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement."

However, this is taking the verse out of its context to apply it in this case, especially when we realize that other people have died and then been brought back to life to die again (Lazarus etc). Thus this is an argument from conjecture and not factual.

Using this method of interpretation, we can take the verse in Heb 11:5 that says that Enoch was translated (Gen 5:24) so that "he might not see death" and thus rule him out as one of the two because they are killed during the tribulation.

Then, they go on to say that it must be Enoch because he prophesied of the end times (Jude 14), but this rationale also breaks down for all the prophets spoke of this event, and not just Enoch. In fact, Moses himself also states the exact same thing as Enoch - word for word - In Dt 33:2. Now, these two points alone are what they base their argument on. One verse, taken out of context and one verse that could have come from any of the prophets.

But we can also rule Enoch out for what the Bible does not say about him. He is not related to the founding or revival of the Theocracy in any way as the two witnesses obviously are in Rev 11, and as both Moses and Elijah were. He was not related to the building of the Temple or organization of the Priesthood as in Revelation or Zechariah as the Two are. As far as we know, he didn't preform any miracles as the Two will accomplish. For these, and several other reasons (as we will see) this would seem to rule out Enoch from being the First Witness.

One other argument from Symbolism also applies here and that is that many Christians see in Enoch a Type of the Pretribulational Rapture and those (Gentiles - like Enoch) who are taken before God's judgement is poured out and then they return at the end of the Trib with the Lord. Thus, Enoch as this type was taken before the Flood and would also not come back until the end of the tribulation with the Lord (in theory).

In contrast to this, there are many indications in the Word that Moses will be this First Witness. Though 120 yrs old he was living in a 40 yr old body (Dt 34:7), He was buried by the Lord himself for a reason (Dt 34:6), after which the devil disputed over the body, also for a reason (Jude 9) which has led some to believe that the reason was that Y'hava resuscitated him three days later (which Satan opposed) and caught him up to heaven as a type of the Resurrection of Y'shua (both in essence accomplished in secret).

The reason for his coming back is actually given to us in the second smiting of the Rock. The first smiting of the Rock the Apostle Paul connects to the Smiting of Y'shua (1 Cor 10:4), and God asked him to do so to symbolize this event. Thus, the second time, when he was supposed to just speak to the rock, he smote it the second time and twice at that. This symbolized that someone else (Messiah can't be smitten twice as Barnabas tells us in Hebrews), who was a type of Messiah (as the scholars tell us Moses was), would also be smitten twice unto death. So, he died just before they entered the promised land and then again during the trib, as a result of his own actions. God often judges people by their words and actions and one example of this comes from Moses himself, when he anointed the 70 elders and there were two in the camp that also prophesied and Joshua asked him to ask them to stop and Moses said that he wished all God's people were prophets. This statement by Moses will be fulfilled at the end of the trib, when the Lord pours out the Spirit on "all flesh" and all God's people will be prophets. So here is another example of this and thus, the second smiting of the Rock (twice) is actually a very strong symbolical argument that Moses is the first witness.

The latter four points also apply for the Second Witness and must be considered together, so this will preview the Second Witness slightly.

Both Moses and Elijah spent their last day on this earth on the Mountain of Nebo (Dt 34:1 and 2 Kings 2:1), and it may be possible that this was actually the location of the Transfiguration. Both Moses and Elijah are intimately connected to Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb - Ex 19 and 1 Kings 19:8), which is where the re-inauguration of the Theocracy will assuredly take place. Both, as well, are connected to the Mt. of Transfiguration as quoted above in which they literally stood before the Lord of the whole earth in fulfillment of Zechariah's statements also quoted above. This, to me, is proof positive and is possibly the strongest argument for this position. In the Prophecy that tells us of the return of Elijah (Mal 4:4), it can not be a coincidence that the Holy Spirit also tells us to remember the Law of Moses at that time which Law will also be restored when the Theocracy is during the tribulation. Finally, the miracles stated of the Two in Rev 11 are exactly the same miracles that Moses (rivers to blood and various plagues) and Elijah (fire from heaven and drought) performed in their first ministries.

So, when we take all these points into consideration, the least that can be concluded is that there is more Scriptural evidence for the return of Moses then there is for the return of Enoch as the first witness.

The Second Witness

Some people assume that the prophecy of the return of Elijah was fulfilled by John the Baptist at the first advent, and then go on to say, because of this, that the two witnesses will be people that God raises up in the end days. Thus, before we look at the other possibilities, this point must be addressed.

John himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, denied that he was Elijah (John 1:21), and the Angel only specified that he would come in the Spirit of Elijah (Mt 1:17) and not that he was the actual fulfillment of the prediction. When our Lord stated that he was Elijah, he specifically qualified his statement by saying, "If you will receive him" (Mt 11:14 compare Mt 17:12),then he was Elijah. The nation rejected the Baptist and he was killed, and they also rejected the Messiah. Had they accepted the offer of the Kingdom by both these men, then John would have been the fulfillment of the passage. All of this was to put the Israelites in the most favorable position possible to provoke them to repentance. Further, in that very passage (Mt 17:11 and Mk 9:12) Y'shua specifically stated that Elijah will (future tense) come again, proving that John was not going to be the fulfillment of the Scripture. And finally, also in context, the Lord also states that Elijah will restore all things (Mt 17:10). This was actually the belief of the Jews, that when the prophet returned that he would restore several things (the Ark, the identity of the Ten Lost tribes, the priesthood and even a resurrection of sorts). That our Lord used this phrase proves that this belief, to some extent, is correct. John the Baptist fulfilled none of these things in his ministry, and thus it is obvious that he is not the fulfillment of the prediction.

Further we have the same argument that applies to Enoch, and that is that John was in no way connected with the Theocracy (because rejected), or Mt. Sinai or the Priesthood and preformed no miracles as the two have done and will do again. So, with John ruled out as the fulfillment of the prophecy, we then are on solid ground when we say that Elijah will be coming back as one of the witnesses as the Scripture specifically states (Mal 4:5 and Mt 17:11) and this then rules out the possibility of an ordinary saint being raised up in the end days, and further that the other witness will assuredly be a prophet of the Old Testament period on the caliber of Elijah or greater.

So, for starters, we have the exact same 'judgement' of Elijah that we have with Moses and that is that they themselves are the reason that they have to die during the trib, because God judged them by their own words. For, after Elijah fled to Mt. Sinai, he then asks the Lord to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). As a type of the Messiah (leader of the nation at the time, just like Moses had been) his words have a very unfortunate result, and that is the death of Elijah at the hands of the Antichrist at the end of the tribulation.

So also, as with Moses, Elijah preformed miracles, as stated above, in his first ministry that are identical to the miracles preformed by the witnesses during the trib (1 Kings 17-18 and Rev 11:5-6). He was intimately connected to the revival of the Theocracy, and also had a major encounter with the Lord at Mt. Sinai (1 Kings 19). Like Moses he left this earth in the area of Mt. Nebo (2 kings 2) and was last seen at the Mt. of Transfiguration (Zech 4:14, Rev 11:4 and Mt 17:3). Notice also in the prediction (Mal 4:5, Is 61:2 and Lk 4:19), that his return is "before the dreadful day of the Lord" and that our Lord stopped reading the Scripture from Isaiah before that statement, which also shows that Elijah will return and fulfill the prediction in Malachi as the messenger that goes before the Lord in these end times. When all these things are considered, and added with the belief of the early church (Victorinus 240 AD, Tertullian 150 AD and Augustine in the third century), who had teaching directly from the Apostles or their immediate successors, then the case is as solid as it can be, and much more so then those who say otherwise.

This dual ministry is actually forcefully presented by the passages (Zech. and Rev.) in question for they are called the Two Olive Trees and the Two Olive Branches, referring to their first ministry when they were planted like trees and their second ministry as the branches that bear much fruit during the trib (with the revival, repentance and salvation of the nation). Thus each one will have two ministries during their lives.

This symbolism is made more solid by the fact that John also directs our attention to this two fold ministry and repeats the dual description of the Two again. And then, in case anyone missed it the first two times, Zechariah repeats his question to the Angel (4:11-12) concerning these two, so as to leave no reasonable doubt. Remember that the Holy Spirit was speaking through the prophet and this then finalizes the argument.

Perhaps, to sum this post up, I will point out something I came across just yesterday. The Lord used Moses to "nourish" the Israelite nation in the Wilderness with the Miracle of the Manna, and he used Elijah to "nourish" a woman and male child during the three year famine, also miraculously. It is then no coincidence that in Rev 12 the woman who gives birth to the male child is also nourished miraculously in the wilderness. In context, as far as I can tell, it is either the "twelve stars" which represent the 144,000 or "the sun and moon" that provide this nourishment. If we take the latter (while not denying the additional possibility of the former), then the Sun represents a father figure in Israel (per the original symbolism in Genesis with Joseph) and the moon a mother figure in Israel, which would be perfectly fulfilled by Moses and Elijah, more so then anyone else.


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