I was reading one of my study books (Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart by Stu Weber) and it was talking about how God promises restoration for us. Weber quotes this verse in talking about it: “See I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6, NIV
While this verse flows well with the concept Weber is discussing in his book (on the Faithful Friend pillar, if you are curious), it got me thinking about something else. Verse 5 clearly states that God planned to send Elijah back to earth before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” That got me thinking about a possible representation of Elijah in the Bible. Where, you might ask? Let me tell you. 🙂
Revelation 11 talks about how God will send two witnesses during the Tribulation to preach for 1,260 days (aka 3 1/2 years) before the beast that comes from the abyss kills them, they lie dead for 3 1/2 days, then will be resurrected and called up to heaven in a cloud by God. There has been a lot of speculation as to who these two witnesses will be. In the Left Behind series, the two witnesses are called Eli and Moishe, a fictional suggestion that perhaps it will be Elijah and Moses who will return to bear witness for the Lord. There is certainly some support for this view; these two were there at the time of Jesus’ transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31), and a cloud came and enveloped them to bring them back into heaven. This would also fit with the verse from Malachi quoted above. So this is entirely possible.
But then I got to thinking about Hebrews 9:27, which says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that face judgment…” Moses already died once, so is it possible that he will die again in fulfillment of Revelation 11? Perhaps, as there is evidence that Lazarus died twice, and Jairus’ daughter may also have died twice. But Elijah never died (2 Kings 2:11-12), so if he is one of the two in Revelation 11 to fulfill the prophecy in Malachi 4, wouldn’t it make more sense that God would send another man who had also never died to endure the same first death and completely validate Hebrews 9:27?
Luckily, there is just such a man, and this is why I find God amazing. If He is sending two witnesses to testify about Him, then be murdered but still live and be called back into heaven, then it is amazing that He allowed two men to never taste death in all of recorded human history (note: there might be some question about Melchizedek, but as there is no definitive record of his birth or death, we’ll stick with the “two men” claim as most accurate). One was Elijah, and we’ve already discussed him. The other is discussed in Genesis 5:21-24, and his freedom from death is verified in Hebrews 11:5. This man is Enoch, father of the last man to die before the Flood and seen as one who “pleased God.” This guy sure seems like he would be a good candidate to return and testify about God’s goodness, and also would help in the fulfillment of Hebrews 9:27. For with the death of these two men, every person in recorded human history would have experienced death, even God personified through Jesus Christ.
So are the two witnesses in Revelation 11 Elijah and Enoch? I’m honest enough to say that I don’t know. It would have been much easier if God had just put their names down, but it is a mystery that is interesting enough to keep it a mystery. However, God has put the possible pieces on the game board for this to be the case, so wherever I am viewing the Tribulation from, either in heaven or on earth, I will be very excited to see just who these men are that are the answer to prophecy!