Biblical Audio Commentary – The Moses Conundrum

Biblical Audio Commentary – The Moses Conundrum




During the soon-coming 7-year Tribulation, Revelation 11 chronicles that Two Witnesses arise in Jerusalem who call down many plagues against the unrighteous unbelievers in the world during a forty-two-month period.  Symbolically they are identified as the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing on the earth before the Lord (Revelation 11:4).  These two individuals are different from the seven symbolic lampstands described in Revelation 1 as being in the midst of the churches.

As often happens in Bible prophecy, Bible teachers identify these Two Witnesses somewhat differently, and the period in which they prophesy is contested.  The text specifies that they will earn the ire of the world for forty-two months.  The issue inevitably is: Is this time period in the first half or second half of the Tribulation?

For the record, I believe these two literal men will operate in the Spirit of the Lord during the first half of the Tribulation.  At the midpoint when Antichrist rises to prominence leading to his temple desecration, I think it’s at this time that he will kill them.  That will provide proof that he has the authority to enter the temple, sacrifice in abomination, and lift himself up as a glorious and powerful god.  After all, the God for whom these Witnesses preached couldn’t protect them.  Of course, once they are resurrected from the dead three days later, Antichrist’s blather is muted somewhat.  However, a great earthquake occurs, and people will quickly forget this supernatural event, since they will simply be struggling to survive in the aftermath of terrible destruction.

The identity of the Two Witnesses has an interesting twist that I don’t think has been discussed much.  Three men are identified as possibilities for the Witnesses.  Enoch and Elijah are strong candidates because both were Raptured, having never seen death.  The other candidate is Moses, yet he died, which could be problematic.

On the other hand, because of the appearance of Elijah and Moses speaking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, a solid case is made for these two men to be the Witnesses, excluding Enoch.  Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets.  Jesus refers in Matthew 22:37-40 to the commandments of God depending on the Law and the Prophets:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This idea of the Law and the Prophets is specifically referred to four other times in the New Testament (Matthew 7:12; Luke 16:16; Acts 13:15; Romans 3:21), thus very important to our theology being based on what was said and done in the Old Testament.

It has been speculated that when Jesus met with these two men – all in their glorified state – that He may have been discussing their role in the future Tribulation timeframe as the two Witnesses.

Here’s the potential problem with this: How is that Moses has been glorified?  He wasn’t Raptured.  Rather, he died before entering the Promised Land.  Note Deuteronomy 34:1,5-6:

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land. . .

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.

Under the old Covenant, everyone who died went down to Sheol.  We know from Luke 16:19-31 concerning the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, that Sheol has two compartments.  One is for those who have died in their sins apart from Christ, and the other is for the righteous, i.e. those who died in Christ.  Concerning the references to Law and Prophets, we also see a more direct reference here specifically about Moses symbolically being the Law in Luke 16:31:

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

There is no doubt that Moses in dying would have gone to the righteous section of Sheol.

Concerning his death and burial, the text tells us that the Lord showed him all the land.  It then goes on to say that he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab.  Who is He?  In context, it was the Lord Himself, i.e. the Angel of the Lord, i.e. Jesus.

So Moses died.  For sure he was buried.  Since he was dead, his soul had to have gone to Sheol.  Is everybody with me and agree so far?

Thus, how do we get Moses from the grave and Sheol into a glorified body speaking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?

We get a significant clue in Jude 9 (a.k.a. Jude 1:9) which says:

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Apparently, following the death of Moses, Satan decided that he wanted the body.  For what reason, we don’t know, but it wouldn’t have been good – likely for blasphemous intent.  Michael, the archangel of Israel, contends with the devil and prevents him from taking Moses’ body for his nefarious purposes.

What happens then?  God probably couldn’t leave the body in the grave.  In so doing, Satan would simply have come along again to steal it.  As often happens, we have a gap of explanation, and we have to speculate in order to come up with the “rest of the story” – as Paul Harvey would have put it.

Michael has the body of Moses, but his soul is in Sheol.  How about if God resurrects Moses from the dead and reunites him with his body to then glorify it?  This is why nobody knows where his grave is.  Look at how this matches with Paul’s description in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Moses is dead in Christ and in the grave.  When this future Rapture occurs, that’s the same condition as those believers who have died before us.  Up they go!  Does it not seem as if this situation with Moses is a foreshadowing of what is to come?

That being the case, it makes Moses available to subsequently speak with Jesus on the Mount.  It also solves the problem of Moses being one of the Two Witnesses.  Both men have been Raptured.  As it turns out, they foreshadow the Rapture of both the living and dead which is soon to occur for all true believers in Christ.

How’s that for a neat and tidy explanation?

The only one left out is Enoch, and I’m not aware of any other text that helps us with him.  He’s with the Lord, having been there from the time of his Rapture.  Maybe he’s been helping Jesus build our future dwelling place in heaven – just kidding, I think.

The Two Witnesses are Moses and Elijah.  Can you imagine the anticipation they have for their future role in this heavenly-earthly drama?

It won’t be long now.  Will we see it with ring-side seats?  Or will we only be able to view the events to come via reruns?  Either way, we have a glorious future.  What a privilege it is to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!

5 Responses to “Biblical Audio Commentary – The Moses Conundrum”

  1. Reply Joe Elmore

    Good morning Gary.
    To be honest, I like your explanation better than any I’ve ever read. I believe that Moses and Elijah do represent the Law and the Prophets. I do have to wonder about Enoch’s role, having been the longest tenured human in Heaven. But for now, your theory is good enough for me.
    Merry CHRISTmas!

    • Reply Gary Ritter

      As usual, I can’t take credit. I was reading my Bible and suddenly I’m thinking of this scenario. It made a lot of sense to me, so I just passed it on! Merry Christmas!

  2. Reply Pamela P

    Thanks Gary for another interesting read. Personally, I’ve always thought the 2 with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration had to have been Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets. I’ve also believed that the 2 witnesses could most likely be them as well. Their rapture during the tribulation represent perfectly the rapture of the Church: Elijah being raptured while still alive and Moses after his death. Whichever way it goes, I agree with you, we’ll have front row seats to watch it all. May they be instrumental in bringing many to Christ during that dreadful time!

  3. Reply Pamela P

    Forgot to add: wishing you and yours many blessings during this Christmas time. It could be our last down here. What an exciting thought that is!
    All God’s richest best for 2024, and thanks again for your always insightful messages.

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