Tuesday, 9 February 2021
These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. Revelation 11:6
John continues with the powers granted to the two witnesses. He begins this verse with, “These have the power to shut heaven.” The heavens are above. To exercise power in the heavens implies the power of God. Thus, in exercising this power, it is a confirmation of the Source of their prophesying.
To shut up the heaven is then further described saying, “so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy.” The Greek reads more descriptively, saying, “so that no rain shall wet.” The implication is that even if there is rain in the sky, it will not wet the earth and provide relief from drought. This is the same power granted to Elijah. In 1 Kings 17:1, it says –
“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.’”
In this, it did not rain for three- and one-half years, as is testified to by both Jesus and James. Along with this power, it next says, “and they have power over waters to turn them to blood.” This is the same power exercised by Moses –
“Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’” Exodus 7:19
The idea of the waters being turned into blood here does not mean that it must be literal blood. The term can be metaphorically speaking of death in the water (from the Bible’s statement that the life is in the blood), or some similar concept. The idea is that these two witnesses have power over the waters to call on them to become blood, and thus undrinkable for the people.
Next, the verse continues with, “and to strike the earth with all plagues.” The Greek actually reads in the singular – “with every plague.” This then extends beyond the ten plagues of Moses to any plague also mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, or whatever other plague they decide upon that has not been mentioned before. They will have power, demonstrating their divine authority (and thus a confirmation that their message is from God), to strike the earth with every plague. And John notes this power is “as often as they desire.”
From these words, it can be inferred that they are given full reign and authority to determine what plagues they will send forth. Unlike Moses who was given specific plagues to be performed at the word of the Lord, these witnesses can speak forth a variety of plagues to come about, and they come accordingly.
It should be considered that by noting these specific plagues, and the fact that several of them are close to what both Moses and Elijah did, it is asserted that this proves the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah. As one commentator notes, “Enoch doesn’t meet any of those qualifications” (Ruckman). That is a simplistic and narrow evaluation of the matter.
The fact is that Moses did not do what Elijah did, and Elijah did not do things Moses did. Further, other prophets did things that neither of them did. Even the apostles spoke regarding authority to call down fire from the heavens (Luke 9:54). The idea that because no such miracle, sign, or wonder is recorded as being accomplished by Enoch – and so Enoch cannot be one of the two witnesses – is an argument from silence.
Enoch has already been noted as a prophet, and thus, he can be granted whatever power the Lord determines to give him in order to accomplish his witness. Moses does not qualify as one of the two witnesses because his death was recorded. As this is so, and as Hebrews clearly explains that man dies and then is judged, Moses is not one of the two witnesses. The two witnesses will die in the verses ahead. Whether the second witness is Enoch or not (and he is the most likely candidate based on the evidence presented), it is perfectly certain that neither is Moses.
Life application: The closing verses of the Old Testament says –
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5, 6
This is a strong indication that Elijah is certainly one of the witnesses. Enoch is the most likely and biblically reasonable second witness. The power that these witnesses possess demonstrates that they are truly of God, and thus their message is from God. This is the purpose of granting such authority – confirmation of the Source.
However, throughout Scripture, men of God have had their words confirmed through such power, or through the fulfillment of their prophetic word, and yet people have rejected their message. How sad it is that the truth of God is presented to humanity, but it is ignored by those who see it!
And this is true with Scripture itself. It stands as a witness to the workings of God in the stream of time. It validates itself in countless ways, and it possesses true power to change. Despite this, it is ignored, belittled, and manipulated by the majority of the world. Let us not do any of these things. But rather, let us hold fast to this precious and sacred word, and let us carefully heed what it says, applying its contents to our lives in the context that is intended for us. It is this marvelous treasure, the Holy Bible, that tells us of God’s saving grace as is revealed in the Person of JESUS!
Lord God, it is hard to understand how people can disregard Your word, despite all of the evidence in it which demonstrates that it is from You. It reveals You and Your plans to us, and it confirms itself through the prophetic word. And yet, it is rejected. Because of this, how much more just is Your judgment when it comes. Until that day, help us to continue to share the beautiful message of the gospel to others in anticipation of converting the lost to a saving relationship with You. Amen.