One of my dear brothers wrote:
I'd have to insist it cannot be overstated what a good and important question this is and particularly in view of all the conflicting and confusing things we seem to encounter any time we might endeavor to actually research it. We would do very well to understand that such is ALWAYS the case when we find ourselves in one of the MANY foretold settings of a holy kingdom covenant or even divine marriage contract that has been violated with spiritual adultery on the part of the ones it was formed with. As I will now proceed to demonstrate however, there are actually A NUMBER of things we would need to appreciate even BEFORE embarking on any serious attempt at genuinely grasping the answer to a question like this. What might these be?Could you offer your understanding of who the two witnesses are?
First of all when we are dealing with ANYTHING that stems from our INCOMPREHENSIBLY high heavenly father and creator which of course would INCLUDE his written word, we are ultimately considering things that are MUCH deeper than we are generally led to believe, or at least by the religious leaders we are always dealing with during one of these post-apostasy/pre-kingdom time frames we once again find ourselves in. (Isa 55:8, 9) All the confusion and misinformation ALONE we encounter on questions such as the above should really be recognized as simply more evidence of this fact. Yet another thing would be this:
When we are dealing with GOD'S word or SCRIPTURAL matters, ultimately (as I'm sure we could all agree) it is not a question of how the incredibly lowly and insignificant Sol or for that matter ANY of us might choose to understand things. If anything PARTICULARLY in a prophetic time frame in which an act of spiritual adultery has yet again taken what WERE "many members of the body of the Christ" and transformed them into many "members of a harlot," or as John words it, "many ANTIChrists," the question would be is there currently ANYONE on the earth who is in a position to USE THE SCRIPTURES to establish or demonstrate the answer that JEHOVAH has for this or really ANY scriptural question! (1 Cor 6:15 12:12) (1 Joh 2:18) But here is yet another thing we would want to take into account before endeavoring to genuinely address such a question:
As I will be demonstrating very shortly, by the TIME one has actually dug deep enough into the scriptures to UNCOVER the answer to a question like this, they by this time have also uncovered "hidden treasures" or "carefully concealed sacred secrets" that are even MORE important to grasp, and once again PARTICULARLY in a time frame in which we are once again eagerly anticipating another foretold "birth of the barren woman." (Pr 2:4) (1 Cor 4:1) (Col 2:3) (Jer 15:9) (1 Sa 2:5) (Isa 54:1-4) Would it really make any sense at all for any GENUINE minister of Jehovah to now essentially pretend these additional treasures are not even THERE?
However the REAL problem or challenge at THIS point is that IN these prophetic time frames, almost without exception the false teachings that have ALWAYS by this time been heavily, relentlessly, and even DEEPLY embedded into us our entire lives by the "disgusting thing" that has always been "PUT IN PLACE" of the Christ or "continual sacrifice" in these periods of national "apostasy" prompts people to essentially run away from the Christ AS OPPOSED to "fleeing from the disgusting thing" that has REPLACED it in the "holy place." (Mt 24:15, 16) (Da 11:30-32) Moreover all of this is assuming we have not already fallen into the trap of opening up false religious literature IN OUR EFFORTS to uncover the answer to such a question which will AUTOMATICALLY preclude the possibility of finding it. (Isa 28:8)
This tragic mistake that is almost ALWAYS made in these prophetic time frames is precisely what Jesus is warning us about in accounts like Matthew 16:6 or even ones like the prophet Daniel in the symbolic spiritual language found at Daniel 1:8. Jehovah through the Apostle Paul is actually commanding us to not even "TOUCH" these things if we would wish for Jehovah to "take us in" during these time frames. (2 Cor 6:17) Is it really so difficult for us to understand that Jehovah does not grant the holy spirit required to comprehend these things to people who refuse to obey his commandments, and even if they are actually EXPLAINED to them at some point? This dilemma in turn is precisely what accounts for what we read in scriptures like Malachi 3:2, 3, Romans 9:33 and Matthew 21:24.
So if we have at least made it this far into the discussion, I am certain we are already in a much better position to address the question of who are the "two witnesses" in a genuinely scriptural manner. Moreover it would likely be good for us to appreciate that the topic of the "two witnesses" is DIRECTLY related to what is being conveyed in the symbolic spiritual language we are considering also here in 1 Kings Chapter 13. Rest assured just as is the case also in accounts like 1 Kings Chapter 2, it is no coincidence that we are considering some rather curious things connected with not ONE but actually TWO prophets or divinely ordained "witnesses" of Jehovah.
Despite the fact that the ministries of Jehovah's prophets that led to the renewed kingdom covenants in connection with the rise of the Grecian world power as well as the first foretold manifestation of the Roman one are not covered in the 66 books of the Bible that most of us are familiar with and are found only in books people have declared as spurious over the millenniums and endeavored to remove from the Bible canon, a careful and prayerful analysis of the holy writings will nonetheless reveal a very consistent and noteworthy pattern in connection with this topic. What exactly is this?
While in a setting of a RENEWED kingdom covenant (which ALWAYS results in the rise of a new world power or even one of the "seven kings" mentioned in accounts like Revelation 17:10) we consistently begin reading about MANY people that are operating under the power of Jehovah's Holy Spirit, (whether they be prophets, priests, kings, judges, or even apostles), in a setting of a BROKEN holy marriage covenant we basically only EVER find ourselves considering TWO. I say "basically" for the reason that there always seems to be at least a handful of people who at some point finally begin to respond favorably to the ministries of these two "prophets," "spies/inspectors" or "witnesses" even PRIOR to a renewed holy covenant and as a result soon find themselves with some very powerful endowments of Holy Spirit as well. (Jos 2:1) (Lu 19:44) (Re 11:3) (Mr 3:13-15)
In other words the "faithfulness" and "discretion" (Mt 25:1, 2) or even "repentance" (Mt 3:1, 2) and humility involved with actually beginning to (as it says in Haggai 1:12) "LISTEN" and pay heed to what Jehovah has to say THROUGH these prophets who are identified as "son of man" (Eze 3:1-6) DURING these ministries distinguished with terms such as that to the "LOST sheep of the house of Israel," (Mt 10:5, 6) Jesus' "brothers," (Mt 25:40) or even (shockingly enough) one directed to the "NATIONS" as OPPOSED to Israel or even Christianity, (Jer 1:5) immediately results in exactly what is pointed out for us now in the NEXT verse found here in Haggai:
13 "And Haggai the messenger of Jehovah went on to say to the people according to the messenger's commission from Jehovah, saying: "I AM WITH YOU PEOPLE," is the utterance of Jehovah."
You see in a setting in which spiritual adultery or even "prostitution" (Isa 1:21) on the part of Jehovah's appointed shepherds has resulted in him "abandoning" the earthly portion of his "house" (Mt 23:38) or "sanctuary" and even "divorcing" (Jer 3:8) his "woman/Shulammite" or nation, (Song 6:13) Jehovah is obviously NOT "with" basically ANY people on the earth. This is regardless of whether or not they continue to refer to themselves with terms like Jews, Israelites, or even Christians. Moreover this REMAINS the case until two prophets are "appointed" (Mt 24:45) to begin ministering to the ones who eventually begin "sighing and groaning over all the detestable things" that of course would NATURALLY and ALWAYS begin to unfold on the earth when Jehovah "abandons" even what was HIS OWN NATION or kingdom! (Eze 9:4) (Mt 23:38)
Are we already beginning to appreciate just how much we have been lied to all our lives in connection with accounts like Matthew 24:45? These "detestable" or even "disgusting" things in fact eventually prompt many of the more righteously inclined ones to "get out from among and separate themselves" ALTOGETHER from what Jehovah identifies NOT as his people, but rather as a kind of promiscuous "DAUGHTER of his people," or otherwise what is always BORN from these adulterous spiritual relations. (2 Cor 6:17) (Jer 8:11) (Eze 23:1-4)
This is a figurative "daughter" who OF COURSE will soon begin to feel the very devastating effects of this "destruction" of Jehovah's "temple" (1 Cor 3:16, 17) which here in accounts like Jeremiah 8:11 is described as an absolute "BREAKDOWN" or even "pangs of distress" upon what is also in some sense a "PREGNANT woman." (1 Th 5:1-3) This spiritual "harlot" is "pregnant" in the sense that at least a "few" among it (Mt 22:14) will eventually respond FAVORABLY to the ministry of the "two witnesses" (Isa 47:1-7 and as a result will be "severed from the inward parts of her mother" (Ps 71:6) by another foretold "birth of the BARREN woman." (Jer 15:9)
In other words since we are actually considering a ministry here specifically and exclusively to Jesus' "BROTHERS" or otherwise to ANOINTED ones, this symbolic spiritual language ("barren" in this case) is pointing to how at least a "few" of them will be moved by this ministry to humbly and repentantly recognize that this broken holy covenant means they no longer even HAVE a flock to shepherd (spiritual children) over until IF OR WHEN they are REASSIGNED this authority and power by one of Jehovah's prophets or even "two witnesses." It is this VERY SAME humble repentance that is being pictured symbolically in accounts like Jonah 3:6 or Matthew 24:15-19 with things like a putting off' or "leaving behind an "official outer garment," and rest assured it is no coincidence we once again find ourselves considering a kind of "pregnant woman" in these same accounts, or for that matter a kind of unclean FOREIGN chieftain ("king of Nineveh" in this case as opposed to something like a "Syrian army chieftain") or ruler in connection with this prophesying or ministry. (2 Ki 5:1-14)
This "official outer garment" represents genuine theocratic shepherding power and authority and repentantly REMOVING it symbolizes an open declaration of you now being "BARREN" and in fact a spiritual "WIDOW" or even "virgin" as opposed to a "bride of the lamb" or even a "QUEEN" of this heavenly "bridegroom." (Isa 47:8, 9 54:1-4) (La 1:1, 4) (Re 18:7, 8 21:2, 9) This humble repentance now begins to qualify you as a kind of "RAHAB" portion of this "great city" or even "great harlot" that is ALWAYS facing immanent destruction in these "times" in which "two" figurative "spies" are assigned by Jehovah to determine who if any among this "Jericho" or "MOON at the feet" portion/"camp" of Jehovah's "woman" (basically the very definition of Jericho) will "discreetly" position themselves to enter into a new formal agreement with him, which of course is the precise definition of a COVENANT! (Jos 2:1, 17-21) (Da 4:23) (Re 12:1) (Song 6:13) (Strong's #3305 #3394)
Are we already beginning to recognize that these scriptures and the phrases found in them are simply additional ways of representing or expressing the symbolic spiritual language found in accounts like Matthew 24:15, 16 where we find Jesus foretelling future periods in which people would feel compelled even to "FLEE" from this "disgusting" entity upon finally recognizing or "catching sight" of the fact that yet another "apostasy" or "leaving of the holy covenant" on the part of Jehovah's appointed shepherds had allowed it to yet again overthrow and occupy the "sanctuary" or "temple" spoken of in accounts like 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17? (Da 11:30-32) (2 Th 2:1-4)
Yes the act of "putting off the official outer garment" is also a humble and repentant acknowledgement that this broken marriage or even "LAW covenant" has resulted in the forfeiture of the shepherding authority and power associated with it. ALL of these things and more are part and parcel of the foretold "strikings" or "chastisings of the shepherd" that eventually include another "birth of the barren woman" or "coming of God's kingdom," and as we can see in accounts like Revelation Chapter 11, ALL of them would include also a ministry involving "two witnesses" or prophets of Jehovah. (Le 26:18, 23) (Mt 26:31) (Jer 15:9) (1 Sa 2:5) (Re 11:3, 7, 11, 12) (Am 3:7)
When it comes to the foretold "times" or even "seasons" in which "tribulations" or "pangs of distress" of a kind of "PREGNANT woman" begin moving people to even cry out to Jehovah over the condition of oppressive slavery that this "disgusting thing" always begins imposing upon them when these broken holy marriage covenants provide it the opportunity, it is ALWAYS the people who begin "separating themselves" from it that Jehovah is most interested in, and it is to THESE ones that he eventually sends precisely TWO WITNESSES or even figurative "spies" to. (Ex 3:9, 10) (1 Th 5:1-3) (Re 12:1, 2, 5) (Jos 2:1, 14)
By now considering the very NEXT verse here in Haggai Chapter 1 we learn exactly what Jehovah meant when he spoke of now suddenly being "WITH" more than simply his "two witnesses" on this particular occasion or even "time." (Da 4:23, 32)
14 "And Jehovah began to raise up the sprit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel the governor of Judah and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest and the spirit of ALL the remaining ones ("anointed remnant"?) of the people, and they began to enter in and do the work in the house of Jehovah of armies their God." (Hag 1:14)
It would appear that the "listening" spoken of in verse 12 finally resulted in many more than simply two prophets experiencing a very tremendous anointing of Jehovah's spirit. Clearly this in turn led to genuine theocratic appointments to positions ALSO of things like "governors" and "priests." Particularly upon considering the symbolic spiritual language we encounter in accounts like Mathew 25:1-10, do we imagine for even one moment it is a mere coincidence that the repentant and rather discreet Rahab of ancient Jericho was soon thereafter wedded NOT ONLY to a Judean prince, but even one that placed her directly in the genetic lineage that led to Jesus in the first century? (Mt 1:5)
But as we read scriptural accounts such as here in Haggai, does it seem to us we are considering yet another example of what is actually a very consistent pattern found THROUGHOUT the Bible and SPECIFICALLY in connection with spiritual deaths and rebirths of Jehovah's nation or what is also described with terms like spiritual "plantings and harvests" or even "baptisms" or fiery spiritual cleansings of a kind of "leprous FOREIGN chieftain"? (2 Ki 5:1, 10) (Mt 3:11) (Ge 41:22-24) (Re 14:4, 15) The fact is what we are considering here in the case of Haggai 1:12-14 is actually what resulted from the ministries of two prophets or "witnesses" of Jehovah by the names of Haggai and Zechariah. It soon transpired even in Medo-Persian kings like Cyrus and Darius serving as "anointed shepherds" of Jehovah, who in turn would appoint ones like the faithful "Esther" and "Mordecai" to great positions of authority and power right along with them. (Isa 44:28 45:1)
However did we notice that this is simply one of SEVERAL accounts in the Bible that follow the exact same sequence of events and ALSO involve a ministry of two prophets that soon in turn result in ADDITIONAL genuine theocratic appointings to great power and authority on the earth? Did not these very same things occur in connection with the ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel roughly a century earlier in connection with the rise of the Babylonian world power? Did we not soon discover that Daniel and his three Hebrew companions eventually responded in the appropriate manner to this ministry and that their "listening" soon led to King Nebuchadrezzar not only becoming a "servant" of Jehovah but also appointing these very same ones to positions of genuine theocratic power and authority along WITH him? Is this not also the very same pattern or sequence of events associated with the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus in the early part of the first century or for that matter what the Apostle John foretells in accounts like Revelation 11 several decades later? (Lu 22:28, 29) (Re 11:3, 7, 8, 11, 12)
Are we at least beginning to recognize what is actually the PRIMARY thing that ALWAYS distinguishes the "two witnesses" from even ALL other genuinely "appointed" theocratic shepherds? It should already be rather clear that when we encounter scriptural terms like "two witnesses" or "two spies," we are actually considering the following:
These would be the prophets of Jehovah that would be involved more specifically with "inspecting" or "spying out" POTENTIAL "brides of the lamb" which for the moment qualify as mere "sleeping" "widows and virgins." This by extension means that they would be most DIRECTLY involved in assisting Jehovah with ESTABLISHING or otherwise RENEWING the "holy covenants" that qualify people as Jews or Israelites in the first place, whether fleshly or spiritual. In other words we are considering specifically the prophets who would be involved in humbly and repentantly assisting Jehovah with essentially "baptizing" or performing a spiritual cleansing and healing of what in the time frames of a BROKEN kingdom covenant would qualify as a kind of "leprous" FOREIGN entity. This is because it is actually a "coming of the kingdom" or a RENEWED kingdom covenant that QUALIFIES people as things like "Christians" or spiritual Jews in the first place. The moment people once again actually qualify as such, this in turn means that they have once again- (as it says also here in Haggai) "ENTERED INTO the house of Jehovah or what is also identified as the "sanctuary, temple," or even "ark" of his protection or SALVATION! (Hag1:14) As the Apostle Paul worded it at 2 Corinthians 6:17, these people have once again been: - "TAKEN IN" by Jehovah.
Even if this phenomenon began to be illustrated or prophetically pictured for us as far back as or even PRIOR to the flood of Noah's day, it seems rather self evident it actually BEGAN with Moses and Aaron in connection with the formation and adoption of the Mosaic Law Covenant. It should also be clear by now however that even THESE events are among ones that ultimately pointed prophetically to the "seven times" in which two prophets would be DIRECTLY involved in assisting Jehovah in the renewing of his holy covenants during the period of time identified as the "gentile times" or "appointed times of the nations" wherein Jehovah's people upon existing on the earth AT ALL would do so in a condition of foreign "captivity and exile." We would do very well however not to overlook the fact that in at least some sense even all the events or prophetic patterns that that continued to cycle through this rather extensive time frame could be recognized as a way of even THOROUGHLY preparing US right here and now for exactly what to expect or look for when it comes to what would ALSO be involved in the ushering in of the MILLENNIAL REIGN! (Ro 15:4)
Are we beginning to better understand things like the fact that the ark built by the ancient Noah was actually just another way of representing or illustrating that it is actually a renewed and inaugurated holy covenant that furnishes salvation for mankind, and it is for that same reason it is also called the "ark of the COVENANT"? Would this information in turn help us to better grasp prophesies such as the one of the Apostle John at the end of the first century found at Revelation 13:8 immediately after we read of yet another spiritual "conquering" of Jehovah's "holy ones"? (Re 13:7, 8) While obviously only ONE of the priestly inaugurations of these renewed covenants would involve PERFECT blood, it should be rather clear by now that Jehovah would be applying the priceless value of this blood ultimately to ALL of the renewed kingdom covenants. (He 9:16-18) In fact we might notice just a few verses later here in Hebrews that this very same priestly "sacrifice" that occurred also in 33 CE is explicitly foretold as something also "RESERVED" for future periods. (He 9:26-28)
You see if our salvation was contingent STRICTLY on the renewed and inaugurated kingdom covenant of the first century, then there is of course no reason for the Apostle John or Paul to prophesy FUTURE occasions when this "salvation" would be furnished. (Re 7:9, 10) (He 9:26-28) Just as the Apostle Paul makes perfectly clear at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, if GENUINE Christianity is actually still PRESENT on the earth and has NOT been forfeited with another "apostasy," then there is of course no reason for it to once again "COME." In light of any real scriptural consideration of these things, could we truly be "rendering our sacred service with our power of reason" when it comes to such prophesies or for that matter also ones such as found at Revelation 11:3, 7, 8, 11, and 12 if we remain unable to make some adjustments in our current understanding? (Ro 12:1)
Yes the fact is Christianity is simply another WORD for God's nation or kingdom, and if it was actually present on the earth at this moment, not only would we not be feeling very much like oppressed slaves, but we would AT THE VERY LEAST be experiencing a ministry being conducted by even MANY Apostles of Jesus! In fact in OUR particular time period, these theocratic shepherds would qualify even also as "incorruptible and immortal KINGS"! (Re 5:10) (1 Cor 15:51-53) Not only would these ones possess some rather astonishing levels of scriptural knowledge and understanding, but they would be involved in things like even LITERALLY raising the dead! (Da 12:3)
Are we beginning to better appreciate just how effective Satan is at casting a veil over even the most obvious or self evident scriptural truths when our unfaithfulness allows him to begin "standing where he ought not"? (Mr 13:14)