Dear Loni,I believe that the two witnesses will arrive shortly before the Great Tribulation begins. Here are my reasons why:
The two witnesses' ministry begins after the Temple is rebuilt and ends with the 7th Trumpet Judgment. Because the 7 year covenant in Daniel 9 is broken by the defiling of the Temple, this would suggest the permission to build the Temple is in the covenant itself. Since the two witnesses arrive on the scene after the Temple is standing, then their ministry would not begin right at the beginning of the Tribulation.
During the first half of the Tribulation, the Jews will live in Jerusalem under the protection of the covenant (Daniel 9:27). That is, until the antichrist breaks the covenant in the middle of the Tribulation. The second half, or 42 months, of the Tribulation is when Jerusalem will be taken over by the antichrist and the Gentiles, as the Jewish remnant flees to the mountains. Now consider the context of the two witnesses' ministry:Revelation 11:1-3 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."The 42 months that the holy city will be tread is clearly the same 42 months that the antichrist will rule after the abomination of desolation. The very next verse gives us a more precise time of 1,260 days, which is also 42 months. The context suggests that these two times period occur at the same time. There is no verse in the Bible that explicitly tells us that the first half of the Tribulation is exactly the same number of days as the last half (1260 per Revelation 12:6). However, the Hebrew word "uchtzi" in Daniel 9:27 usually translated "midst" or "middle" literally means "half of", which would indicate that the first half of the Tribulation is 1,260 days, mirroring the second half.
That being said, just because the two witnesses' ministry is the same number of days as half of the Tribulation, we cannot make the assumption that it has to fit into one half or the other. There is nothing I can find in Scripture that would prohibit their ministry overlapping the two halves of the Tribulation.
The 2nd and 3rd Bowl Judgments turn all the bodies of water to blood. Mankind will have a matter of days, to maybe weeks, to survive after these two Judgments alone. If the Trumpet Judgments were in the first half of the Tribulation, then you would have a period of almost 3 ½ years during the "Great Tribulation", where there would not be any direct Judgments from God until the end of the Great Tribulation; other than giving Satan authority to rule and overcome the Saints.
Surely the antichrist's rule is not greater than Judgments from God. In other words, why would Jesus characterize the last 3 ½ years as "great" (Matthew 24:21), if two thirds of God's Judgments are poured out in the first half, but only the last third in the final days of the Tribulation?
It makes more sense for the Seal Judgments and their continuing, and worsening, consequences to cover the first half of Daniel's 70th Week. The Trumpet and Bowl Judgments would then cover the 3 ½ years known as the "Great Tribulation". This would continue the pattern of "birth pangs" increasing in frequency and intensity, where the worst will occur in the last 3 ½ years.
That being said, there is nothing in Scripture that prohibits the Trumpet Judgments overlapping both halves of Daniel's 70th week. In other words, the 21 Judgments could be spread across the whole 7 years. However, the Seal Judgments appear to be released in rapid succession near the beginning of the 7 years with the consequences continuing, and worsening, through the whole Tribulation.For example, typically after war, which is the 2nd Seal, comes economic turmoil (3rd Seal) and more death from hunger and disease (4th Seal). So in history, we see that these usually occur in rapid succession of each other. But in the case of Revelation 6 it will be on a global scale.
Though I cannot be dogmatic on the issue, I think a likely scenario could be that the two witnesses' ministry begins 1,263-1,264 days before the Feast of Trumpets. This would be about two weeks before the "abomination of desolation" of the Temple that particular year. My thinking here is the two witnesses would rise from the dead on the Feast of Trumpets the year Jesus returns.
Right after this, the 7th Trumpet will sound, which will announce Jesus' return to Earth (Revelation 11:15-18). In this scenario, this "coronation of the King" would be the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. The next 10 days, known as the "days of awe" by the Jews, between the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Atonement, the Bowl Judgments would be poured out. Jesus would return on the Feast of Atonement. The last Feast, Tabernacles, would be fulfilled by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. See chart in the link below:As for who and where they I discuss various possibilities here:
Loni (18 June 2011)
"The Two Witnesses"
Where are they and when are they supposed to arrive? Surely it can't be much longer. I would appreciate any information on this subject.
Thank you Doves,