Two Witnesses
(How do the pairs of witnesses in Zechariah and in Revelation relate to the church?)

QUESTION: Do you think that God is done with telling his servants, as He has in the past, about events that are about to take place? What about His two witnesses, the ones pouring oil into the lamp stand and feeding the church in knowledge or whatever? Are they done in their work? I know there are false prophets but there are also the genuine ones too.

ANSWER: It's an interesting question, but you seem to imply in what you say some things with which I disagree.

The Gift of Prophecy
First, we need to consider the prophetic gift. When the Lord commissioned Jeremiah to be His prophet, he tells us, "The LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'" (Jer. 1:9).

That does nicely as a definition. A prophet is one whom God prepares to speak a divinely inspired, utterly trustworthy revelation.

When Moses balked at being God's spokesman, the Lord appointed his brother Aaron, instead. God still revealed His message to Moses, but Moses, in effect, became like God to his brother, putting the inspired words in Aaron's mouth. The Lord says, "He shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God" (Exod. 4:16).

Though the two situations are different, they both clearly illustrate God's way of transmitting inspired truth. Before God's Word was written down and preserved as we have it now, this was a necessary gift. But since we now have His completed revelation, the prophetic gift is no longer needed, and I do not believe there are prophets in the church today, in the sense I've described.

Those who attempt to add to (or subtract from) the inspired Scriptures are condemned (Rev. 22:18-19). In answer to the first part of your question, yes, I believe God is done with telling his servants about events that are about to take place. We have all the information we need.

As far as the church of Jesus Christ is concerned, the work of the apostles and prophets was foundational (Eph. 2:20). A foundation is not the same as a superstructure. We are now continuing to build on the foundation laid in the Apostolic Era. Today, evangelists carry on the gospel proclamation and church-planting work begun by the apostles. Pastor and teachers preach and teach what was revealed through the prophets (cf. Eph. 4:11).

When I preach God's Word, I'm not introducing new revelations. I'm proclaiming what God has said, and showing how it applies to us in the present day. Instead of craving new revelations, I believe folks need to study and apply what God has already given them. "His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Pet. 1:3), if we'll only make use of what if found in His Holy Word (cf. II Tim. 3:16-17).

Zechariah and Revelation
The prophetic vision of Zechariah (Zech. 4:1-14) concerning the golden lampstand and the two olive trees seems in general to represent the work and witness of the nation of Israel in the world, by the power of the Spirit of God.

In the immediate context, it provided a message of encouragement to Zerubbabel, in his efforts to lead the returned exiles in rebuilding the temple (vs. 9). Further, the blessing of the Lord on Israel back then is a foreshadowing of the glorious place that will be theirs in the future messianic kingdom (cf. Isa. 60:1-3; Amos 9:14-15, etc.).

The "two anointed ones" (vs. 14) would seem to be Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest at the time (3:1). Thus, Israel's governing authority and religious leadership is represented, as both being significant servants of God.

Some see a parallel between these two anointed servants of God in Zechariah, and the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-14. Perhaps the one foreshadows the other to some extent (cf. Rev. 11:4). But it is Christ Himself, in the coming Kingdom Age, who will combine the roles of priest and king, when He reigns in the power of the Spirit for a thousand years.

The two pairs of individuals in Zechariah and the book of Revelation relate to two widely separated times and situations. As to your question's reference to "two witnesses...pouring oil into the lamp stand and feeding the church," I'm not sure what you mean.

In Zechariah we are dealing with the people of Israel after the Babylonian Captivity, and before the birth of Christ. In Revelation chapters 6 through 18 we are dealing with the judgments of God poured out on the earth during the seven-year Tribulation that follows the rapture of the church (I Thess. 4:16-17).

The two witnesses in the latter time will be supernaturally protected so they can testify to the terrible final days of judgment on a godless world to be unleashed by the sounding of the seventh and last angelic trumpet (Rev. 11:15).

Their identity is unknown. Some say they Moses and Elijah come back, because of the similarity of their miraculous powers (Rev. 11:6). But we do not know for certain. They may simply be two men selected from the 144,000 appointed from the tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:4).

The ministry of the two pairs is also quite  distinct, suited to the differing situations. If the Church Age begins, as I believe it does, at Pentecost (Acts 2), and ends with the catching away of the church at the Rapture (I Thess. 4), neither of the two pairs of witnesses is involved in that period.

A Wider Application
The main parallel between them is that both are dependent on the power of God working through them to accomplish their God-given tasks.  And it is precisely on this point that we have a universal application. If we are to become what the Lord wants us to become, and do what He wants us to do, it will be by His enablement, and all the glory will be His.

"‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). The Hebrew words translated "might" and "power" in that text are not completely synonymous. The word for "might" (chayil) is frequently used of men working together–an army, or armed force, a host of men. The word for "power" (koach) is generally translated strength, and speaks of human effort in general.

We might paraphrase Zechariah 4:6, "Not by human force or individual effort, but by My Spirit." Either way, the words of the Lord Jesus apply, "Without Me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5). "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God" (II Cor. 10:4). "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (II Cor. 3:5).

That is something for today that we can take away from the ministry of these four men.