The woes that come during the 7 Trumpet Judgments are so severe because they’re multifaceted. The 2nd Woe includes the mysterious 7 Thunders that John was told he couldn’t reveal. Perhaps what they disclose has to do with the Two Witnesses.
Chronologically, it appears they come on the scene immediately following Antichrist’s covenant confirmation that starts the official 7-year Tribulation clock. Revelation 11:2-3 says:
“… but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
I think it’s reasonable to assume that the covenant agreement is what provides the opportunity for the pagans to overrun the outer court of the temple and despoil Jerusalem itself. Let’s not forget what God thinks of the motives and outcome of Israel entering this pact as shown in Isaiah 28:15,18:
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter” …
Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.
Everything the Jews do in attempting to save themselves from the overwhelming whip (or scourge) that the covenant prevents, is built on lies. This may be why the Two Witnesses are immediately sent to afflict Israel and the world. The timing seems right about this as they will prophecy for 42 months and likely be killed just as Antichrist is ready to enter the temple to desecrate it at the Tribulation midpoint.
What are the Two Witnesses witnessing about and prophesying during their time of absolute immortality during these 3 1/2 years?
We’re not told specifically that the witnesses are directly linked to the various judgments, but that seems like a pretty good bet. First of all, no one can harm them as noted in Revelation 11:5:
And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed.
Woe to those who would try!
As witnesses in the city of Jerusalem, they are no doubt proclaiming that Jesus – whom the Jews rejected upon His first advent – is indeed the Messiah and Savior that Israel has long hoped for. The news is good and bad. If God’s Chosen People place their faith and trust in Him, they can be part of the remnant that will be saved. However, if they continue believing some other messiah will still come, and they choose not to accept Jesus as Lord, they will die. Sadly, just like the rest of the world, few will believe this truth and turn to the only One who can save them.
In response, in order to get the attention of Israel and the rest of the unbelieving world, look in Revelation 11:6 what they can do:
They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may 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 kind of plague, as often as they desire.
Given this type of power, I think it’s reasonable to ask if what they call down upon the earth is the various Seal and Trumpet Judgments up until the point of their deaths? And/or it may be that they are involved with the hidden 7 Thunder Judgments.
Who are the Two Witnesses? The most likely explanation is that they are Moses and Elijah who appeared and spoke with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration as stated in Matthew 17:2-3:
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
They may very well have been discussing their return to earth during this time that they witness.
Because the dynamics in Israel change dramatically once Antichrist enters the temple and proclaims himself as god, it’s doubtful that the Two Witnesses continue past that point. It may actually be that their death, which Antichrist facilitates, is the catalyst for him entering the temple.
Here is what Revelation 11:7-8 tells us about this:
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
The Lord doesn’t have much good to say about what Jerusalem has become. It is likened to the sexual morass that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah. So it is that when they’re finally killed after plaguing the unbelieving world with the judgments of God, how everyone is thrilled! Now, they may think, life can get back to normal. Antichrist kills them and Revelation 11:9-10 reports the “good news”:
For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.
The whole earth has been affected by the Two Witnesses. Moreover, because of the technology available at the time, all peoples everywhere have heard their message and come to know that they are responsible for the terrible disasters that have distressed them. Through their smartphones and other ubiquitous communication devices, everyone immediately hears of their deaths and raises a hallelujah. They are so excited that these two menaces are gone that they celebrate with parties and the giving of gifts to each other.
But their merrymaking is short-lived. Revelation 11:11-13 discloses:
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Perhaps their reveling was a bit premature. The witnesses are resurrected. Just as Jesus went up into the clouds with the apostles watching, so do the Two Witnesses. Can you imagine fear that would consume the peoples of earth? There is a God who is mighty and powerful, who is even able to cheat death. As punishment for killing His prophets once more in this holy city, God responds with a terrible earthquake. These events cause some to turn to the Lord.
All this has been in the context of the 2nd Woe as part of the 6th Trumpet Judgment. The 3rd Woe soon to come is incorporated in the 7th Trumpet Judgment and the resulting 7 Bowl Judgments that will bring an end to all things on earth as we know it.
All I can say after chronicling these awful events is that I’m eternally grateful I won’t be here to experience them. Christian, do you really think God wants you to endure such atrocities? Was your salvation that Christ died to give you as a free gift not sufficient to avoid God’s wrath?
Of course it is! This is why the pre-Tribulation Rapture will occur. God’s purpose in the Tribulation is to punish those who have chosen not to believe in Jesus when they had the opportunity. If you have trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and given Him your believing loyalty, this most horrible of all times ever to come upon this world is not for you. And for this we praise the Lord!