“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev 11:3).
I am not some expert on apocalyptic literature (I am not sure if I am a partial-preterist or a amillenialist), but in my joy reading I couldn’t shake the following idea: that the two witnesses are the old and new testaments of the Scripture.
Here is my reasoning:
-The discussion of the witnesses happens after the sixth trumpet in Rev 9 and the final judgement and return of Jesus Christ in Rev 11. This interpretation requires us to read the trumpets and bowls of woe as presentations of one another, and not independent events. The fact that the two witnesses come between the 6th and 7th trumpets allows us to infer that this event occurs right before the final judgement.
-Both the old and new testaments contain prophecy.
-They are “clothed in sackcloth,” or in other words, humble and outwardly unimpressive. Augustine noticed that the Scripture’s style was humble and by human standards, not eloquent.
-Fire proceeds from the mouths of the witnesses (Rev 11:5). This may be reference to God being a consuming fire (Heb 12:29) or the powerful nature of Scripture is condemning man, and discerning his heart: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
-The powers listed in Rev 11:6 are that of Moses and Elijah. Some people think this means that the witnesses will be Moses and Elijah. However, these events are also listed in the Scripture, so it may simply be a reflection of God’s power as spoken of in the Bible.
-Rev 11:7-12 recount the death and resurrection of these witnesses. This may be referring to the attempted destruction or censoring of the Scripture, and God’s restoring the Scripture to prominence.
-Lastly, the length of the church age (1,260 days, Rev 12:6–the woman is the Church) is equal in length to the time of preaching of BOTH witnesses (1,260 days, Rev 11:3). The only thing whose shelf life would be equal to the church’s would be the Scripture’s, as their birthdays are essentially the same.
Now, are all of the above smoking gun arguments? No. But at least I have some support in tradition. St. Bede writes, “The Church is irradiated by the light of the two Testaments” in reference to the witnesses being called two lamp stands. So, I’m not alone in my craziness!