The two witnesses: Moses and Elijah? /
Reply, Marcus Franz 00, 2000-07-11
Moses can only die once. / Reply Dr. Monika von
Sury 00, 2007-01-07
Lazarus died twice. / Reply Karl-Heinz
Wolschke 00, 2008-12-29
Whereas Elijah was raptured, the Bible tells us that Moses died. In Heb 9,27 we
are told that it is appointed for men to die once. Please note that the Greek word for ‘once’,
hapax, does not mean ‘one day, sometime or other’ or anything like that – it really
is a counting word (once as opposed to twice or more). Just as it is appointed for every human
being to die once (unless the Second Coming of the Lord should occur first, or an extraordinary
miracle happens as in the case of Elijah or Enoch), so the life of every human individual on
this earth is just once and unrepeatable. Nor is it any use to point to reports in the Bible
about people who have been resurrected from the dead, as these resurrections always take place
immediately following the death of the person and are not (with the exception of Our Lord Jesus)
any kind of final victory over death or dispensation of a completely new life. Certainly Moses
and Elijah appeared on the Mountain of Transfiguration, but this was plainly in a supernatural,
spiritual form and not as ‘new’ mortal human beings. All that has been stated so far is
supported by the fulfillment of the ‘Elijah prophecy’. Of course John the Baptist was not
Elijah in flesh and blood (and accordingly answered in the negative, when asked about his
origin), but he appeared in the spirit and with the authority of Elijah, so that in this way he
fulfilled the promise of the Elijah who was to come (Jn 1, 21; Mt 11, 14; 17, 10-13). This is
why I think that the two witnesses, similarly, while they appear in the spirit and the power of
Moses and Elijah, are still not personally identical with them.
(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de)
The reason why it has been supposed that these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah
lies first of all in the similarity between the plagues that they cause and those that were
occasioned by Moses and Elijah in their time.
These two witnesses have power, for the time of their prophesying (for 1260 days, or three and half years), to shut up the sky and turn the waters into blood.
These have the power to shut up the sky for 3 1/2 years and to turn water into blood.
Rev 11,3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they
will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 11,4 These
are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 11,5 And
if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone
wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 11,6 These have the power to shut up the sky,
so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters
to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. Rev
11, 3- 6;
As we know, Moses had already transformed the water of the Nile to blood.
The water that is in the Nile will be turned in blood.
Ex 7,15 "Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the
water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the
staff that was turned into a serpent. 7,16 "You shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the
Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness.
But behold, you have not listened until now." 7,17 ‘Thus says the LORD, "By this you
shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff
that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. 7,18 "The fish that are in the Nile
will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water
from the Nile."‘" Ex 7,15-18;
And Elijah in his time had likewise shut up the sky for three and a half years, so
that it did not rain for this time and there was a great famine.
Surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years.
1Kg 17,1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead,
said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall
be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." 17.2 The word of the LORD came to
him, saying, 17,3 "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith,
which is east of the Jordan. 17,4 "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have
commanded the ravens to provide for you there." 1Ki 17, 1- 4;
In the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months.
Lk 4,24 And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in
his hometown. 4,25 "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days
of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over
all the land; 4,26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of
Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. Lk 4,24-26;
And it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
Jak 5,17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed
earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
5,18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. Jak 5,17-18;
(See also Chapter 03: "The Great Tribulation").
The fact that the above passage (Rev 11,4) refers to the two witnesses as ‘olive
trees’ that ‘stand before the Lord of the earth’ is certainly strongly reminiscent of this
passage from Zechariah (4,11-14):
The two olive trees who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.
Zech 4,11 Then I said to him, "What are these two olive trees on
the right of the lampstand and on its left?" 4,12 And I answered the second time and said to
him, "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the
golden oil from themselves?" 4,13 So he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what these
are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 4,14 Then he said, "These are the two anointed
ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." Zech 4,11-14;
All the same, these statements cannot help us to identify the two prophets.
On the other hand the circumstance that Elijah did not die but was caught up by God into the sky, in conjunction with what is stated in Heb 9,27, would open up a further possibility as well.
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
Hbr 9, 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and
after this comes judgment. Heb 9,27;
According to Gen 5,24, not only Elijah but also Enoch was raptured rather than
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Gen 5,22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became
the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 5,23 So all the days of Enoch were
three hundred and sixty-five years. 5,24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
This would permit the conclusion – seeing that according to Heb 9,27 all men after
all must die once – that these two persons, who as we know have not died yet, meet their deaths in
the Last Days.
It must be said, though, that points of support in comparison with the Moses / Elijah interpretation are exceedingly exiguous. Still more so when we take into account the fact that the real key passage for this interpretation is the text of Lk 9,28-33.
And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different.
Lk 9,28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and
John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 9,29 And while He was praying, the
appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Lk 9,28-29;
It starts here with Our Lord’s going up a mountain and praying. And when he prays,
he is transfigured, and Moses and Elijah – similarly transfigured – appear to him and speak to him
about his forthcoming death in Jerusalem.
They appeared in glory and were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Lk 9,30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were
Moses and Elijah, 9,31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was
about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 9,32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with
sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.
9,33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here;
let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-not
realizing what he was saying. Lk 9,30-33;
Here again the question suggests itself: why Moses and Elijah, of all people? Of
course this was not a physical resurrection: the two prophets appeared in a spiritual body, like the
Lord Jesus before his Ascension to the Father. Moreover Peter and the two other disciples see the
Lord transfigured as well. And as the two men are leaving him again, Peter makes haste to say, "Let
us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." And as we are then
told, Peter did not realize what he was saying.
What should we suppose this to mean? When Peter ‘did not realize what he was saying’, this certainly does not imply that what he said was some kind of nonsense; the point that is being made here is that the words he spoke were not his own. It was the Holy Spirit that suggested these words to him and caused him to speak. And now it already becomes clear that this is not just an accidental happening – there may be a prophetic statement hidden in these events.
These ‘three tabernacles’ that Peter wanted to build suggest that there is something in common between these three persons. If we turn our gaze on the past, we can discern very little in common between Elijah and Moses – apart from the fact that they were both prophets of God. Even their deaths were entirely dissimilar. While Moses died a natural death, Elijah was raptured by God into the sky. Jesus Christ on the other hand was killed in Jerusalem.
But this very last point is strongly reminiscent of Rev 11,7-8. There we are told that these two witnesses will be killed by the beast – in the city, moreover, where their Lord was crucified, in other words in Jerusalem.
The beast will overcome them and kill them.
Rev 11,7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes
up out the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 11,8 And their
dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where
also their Lord was crucified. Rev 11, 7- 8;
So it is conceivable that this utterance, placed in Peter’s mouth by the Holy
Spirit in Lk 9,33 – namely, "Let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and
one for Elijah" – might have been an indication of the similar circumstances of the ministry and
death of these three persons: the Lord 2000 years ago, and Moses and Elijah in the last Days.
– All three are sent by God
– All three prophesy to the people of Israel
– All three are rejected by Israel
– All three die a violent death
– And all this, in the case of all three, in Jerusalem.
The indication given in Rev 11,8, where it is stated that their dead bodies will lie
in the streets of the city ‘where also their Lord was crucified’, also seems to point to some
It is correct, however, that it is not possible to give a more precise demonstration. But one point we can agree about, in any case, is the statement by Marcus Franz, quoted above, that the two witnesses – whether they actually are Moses and Elijah or not – will appear in the spirit and the power of Moses and Elijah.
In your arguments in this Discourse you have allowed an error to creep in. You
write quite correctly that Moses died a natural death, as we read in Deuteronomy 34,4-7:
4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
6 And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.
7 Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. Deut 34, 4-7
Now if we were to go along with your argument and see Moses as the second witness of God in Rev 11,3-12, this means that Moses would have to die twice – once in Moab at the good old age of 120 years, and then a second time by violence in the Last Days. But a ‘double death’ like this would completely contradict what we are told in Hebrews 9,27:
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hbr 9,27)
As I know you, you must have simply overlooked this contradiction in your answer to Marcus Franz, seeing that the latter makes this very point at the start of his comments. For this reason too I find Mr. Franz’s final conclusion convincing – at least in so far as it relates to Moses: "This is why I think that the two witnesses, similarly, while they appear in the spirit and the power of Moses and Elijah, are still not personally identical with them."
Dr. Monika von Sury – Royal Line email@example.com
Yes, your insights here are completely correct, and I must thank you for bringing
them to my attention. I clearly concentrated too much on the death of the two witnesses, and lost
sight of the physical death of Moses. With the final argument of Markus Franz’s comments, which
you quote above, I was of course in complete agreement. I know that he visits Immanuel.at from time
to time, so he can find in this correction – regrettably only after an interval of seven years -
confirmation of his views.
But now, as a result of this amendment, the entire theory begins to totter. If Moses is not the second witness, there are few good grounds for seeing Elijah as the first. The main biblical statement on which this theory relies is Lk 9,30-33, where Moses and Elijah appear to the Lord, and Peter, in a kind of fit of absent-mindedness, suggests making tabernacles for the three of them. Here Elijah and Moses appear together, and it was a natural conclusion – though unfortunately an incorrect one – that they would do the same in the Last Days.
So if this means that a possible explanation for Lk 9,30-33 has been eliminated, it seems that we still cannot entirely ignore the event in our interpretative endeavors. There are so many symbolic statements and indications in this passage that we can hardly fail to suppose that they have some kind of prophetic import. And this is a task that biblical commentators will undoubtedly in future undertake.
Hello ‒ I’m pleased to have come across your website. After having
browsed through the discourses, I feel the need to add my views on The Two Witnesses: Moses and
Elijah. I think these two witnesses are really Israelites. The circumstance of their appearance
after the measuring of the temple (Rev 11,1) makes this evident. In particular the instruction
to "leave out the court which is outside the temple..." (Rev 11,2) shows that these
prophecies are principally directed to Israel. God will send his chosen people the two most
trustworthy witnesses, Moses and Elijah. This is evidently what Peter, James and John saw as
well (Mt 17,1 ff). Against this, apparently, is the fact that Moses died a natural death and
Paul says in Heb 9,27 that it is appointed to men to die once. Which is fundamentally correct.
At the same time, the death of the evidently hale and hearty Moses (Deut 34,5-7) is in itself a
bit peculiar, and the fact that Michael strove with the devil over the body of Moses when he was
dead (Jude 1,9) is a proof, in my view, that Moses is an exception. And besides there was another
God-willed exception to this Pauline rule ‒ when Jesus, with God’s consent, brought
Lazarus (who was already stinking) back to life from the dead (Jn 11,13-44). The identity of the
two witnesses is important for me because I think that we can learn something from the things
that are going on in the state of Israel. Sincerely, Karl-Heinz Wolschke
Karl-Heinz Wolschke firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your visit to Immanuel.at ‒ I am pleased as well that you have
happened upon my website. In the earlier part of this Discourse we investigated, in the light of
Scripture, the question whether there is any reason to believe that the two witnesses in Rev 11,2-6
are identical with Elijah and Moses. In relation to Elijah ‒ or the spirit of Elijah ‒
the participants in the discussion reached something approaching agreement, whereas in the case of
Moses, there seems in the last analysis to be a lack of biblical indications.
My attempt to base my argument on the circumstance that Elijah did not die, but ascended to heaven while still alive (2Kin 2,11), making this an occasion when the condition posited by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews ("It is appointed to men to die once, and after this comes judgment", Heb 9,27) was not fulfilled, cannot be applied to Moses, as the above comments by Ms. von Sury show, seeing that Moses after all really did die.
Now of course I agree without any reservation with your remarks ‒ to the effect that these two witnesses are Israelites, and will prophesy to Israel above all in the Last Days. This can also be inferred from the prophecy of the prophet Malachi:
Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
Mal 4,4 "Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes
and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 4,5 "Behold, I am going to
send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 4,6
"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to
their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Mal 4,4-6;
But whereas we find some indications in Scripture that Elijah is one of the two
witnesses, the same is unfortunately not the case with Moses ‒ nor was my logical conclusion
earlier altogether convincing in relation to Moses, as we can see clearly. I am quite happy to agree
with you that in Moses we have to do with an exceptional phenomenon, but these are of course just
personal opinions and points of view which we shouldn’t, I think, see as constituting a proof of
an interpretation of this kind. Otherwise somebody could claim with equal justice that David, who as
we know will be resurrected by God in the Millennium to be the prince of Israel once more (Jer
30,8-9; Eze 34,23-24; Hos 3,4-5), was likewise an exception and could appear in the role of the
But it’s a quite different situation with the point you make in relation to the raising of Lazarus.
So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.
Jn 11,11 This He said, and after that He *said to them, "Our
friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." 11,12 The
disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 11,13 Now
Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 11,14 So
Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 11,15 and I am glad for your sakes that
I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him." 11,16 Therefore Thomas, who is
called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with
Him." Jn 11,11-16;
The man who had died came forth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
Jn 11,41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and
said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 11,42 "I knew that You always hear Me;
but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent
Me." 11,43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come
forth." 11,44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his
face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
Lazarus quite clearly died twice, because the Lord here raised him from the dead.
And in this connection, of course, we can also mention Paul’s and Peter’s raising people from
the dead (Acts 20, 9-10; 9,20-21). And then of course there is King David as well, who will be
raised by God in the Millennium and will likewise die a second time. So you are completely right
about this ‒ there are indeed exceptions, willed by God, to the rule of the Letter to the
Hebrews that men die once, and then experience the judgment.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
Hbr 9,27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and
after this comes judgment, 9,28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of
many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await
Him. Heb 9,27-28;
So although your argument is completely correct and in conformity with Scripture, I
just do not see ‒ though it makes me sorry to say it ‒ that it gives any grounds for
supposing Moses to be the second witness. And what is more, if Monika von Sury’s counterargument
in her contribution above means that Moses has dropped out of the running as a candidate, your proof
makes the argument based on a comparison between Elijah and the second witness even less tenable. So
the only passage remaining in support of this view is Lk 9,30-33, and that on its own hardly seems
to add up to a sufficiently convincing demonstration.
Your concluding statement ‒ "The identity of the two witnesses is important for me because I think that we can learn something from the things that are going on in the state of Israel" ‒ is again something I agree with, but you just have to indicate more specifically in what sense you mean that to be understood. From the biblical point of view, the people of Israel have rejected the Messiah. Since that event, and the subsequent destruction of the Temple and so of the sacrificial altar in Jerusalem, the people of Israel have no longer had any connection with their God of any kind whatsoever. Unless they convert to Jesus Christ ‒ which would make them Christians ‒ Israelites cannot hope that a single word of God will be addressed to them, until the time of the Second Coming of the Lord to take up his kingship in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace. Here is what the Son of God says about himself:
No one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jn 14,6 Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and
the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Jn 14, 6;
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father.
1Jn 2,23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father;
the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1Jn 2,23;
Unless you believe that I am He (the Messiah), you will die in your sins.
Jn 8,22 So the Jews were saying, "Surely He will not kill
Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?" 8,23 And He was
saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this
world. 8,24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe
that I am He, you will die in your sins." Jn 8,22-24;
And since all Israelites who follow the faith of Moses absolutely reject Jesus
Christ as the Son of God and their Lord ‒ and for that matter, reject him as their own Messiah
‒ preferring to see him as a fraud and blasphemer, they have no possibility of any interaction
with their God, whether in prayer or by means of sacrifice, from the time of the death and
resurrection of the Lord until his Second Coming. So it follows from these statements of the Lord’s
that they have also been a god-less people for almost two thousand years, and have not had any
possibility of their sins being forgiven.
Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!, until you say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
Mt 23,32 "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your
fathers. 23,33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of
hell? 23,34 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of
them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute
from city to city, 23,35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on
earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you
murdered between the temple and the altar.
23,36 "Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 23,37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 23,38 "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 23,39 "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’" Mt 23,32-39;
Only on the coming of the Lord to take up his rule in the Millennium, when he will
gather Israel from all parts of the world and they will look upon him and weep bitterly over him
whom they have pierced (Zech 12,10; Mt 24,30; Rev 1,7), will Israel again be reconciled with its God
and become chief of the nations under its King David ‒ a world power, in other words.
This also applies, and with particular force, to what is often incorrectly understood as being the "gathering of Israel by its God" in connection with the founding of the Israeli state in the year 1948. This "gathering" did not take place through the action of the Jews’ God, but was the work of Theodor Herzl’s Zionists, who ‒ as so often in the history of Israel (think of Mount Sinai) ‒ were once again incapable of waiting for the time appointed by God and so made themselves a "golden calf" in the form of the Israeli state.
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Gal 5,3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision,
that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 5,4 You have been severed from Christ, you who
are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Gal 5, 3- 4;
(See also Discourse 08: "The gathering of Israel:
already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?")
Israel in the light of the Bible.
Based on the Old Testament
God has completely taken away his compassion from the house of
Israel (Hos 1:6). They are no longer his people (Hos 1:9). Only the house
of Judah will be saved by the Lord. Not by war, however, but by his Spirit
(Hos 1:7). And only in the Millennium, when the Son of God has entered on
his thousand years rule on earth (Hos 1:10; 2,18 Eze 34:25; Isa 2:4), will
the Lord once more accept Israel as his people (Hos 2:23; Jer 31:27-28).
Based on the New Testament
It is God’s will that we should listen to his Son (Mt 17:5). This same Son
of God has told us that anyone who rejects him rejects God as well (1Jn
2:23; Lk 10:16; Jn 5:22-23. 15:23). The people of Israel today deny the
Son of God and abuse him as an impostor and blasphemer. As a result of
this denial of the Son, Israel has also rejected the Father and so is a
God-less people. (Jn 8:24)