Then comes the second thing, in chapter eleven on to verse thirteen, which proves to be the third view of the tribulation. It shows that during the whole of this tribulation time there will be a special faithful witness being borne to God and His truth. As the Holy Spirit is being withdrawn from the Church, these two men begin their special ministry of witnessing.
The place of that witness will be Jerusalem. But recent events will have brought a greatly diversified population to that city from all parts of the world. So that the witness becomes world-wide in its immediate reach, and probably in the reports of it that go out.
Yet the events of judgment spoken of in Malachi did not take place when John the Baptist and Jesus came. The events spoken of prophetically in connection with His coming are divided into two groups, those of graciousness, finding fulfilment at the first coming, those of judgment followed by graciousness, at the second coming. So John the Baptist fulfils the Elijah part at the first of these two; in all probability Elijah himself at the second part, i.e., "before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come."
In regard to Enoch, the passage in Jude, Jud_1:14, is of significance. The language, "Enoch prophesied,... the Lord came, etc.," is probably spoken in the sense, familiar in the Bible, of a future action seen as already done. Here Enoch is spoken of as prophesying or preaching, not to the people before the Flood, but to a certain class of men belonging to Jude's generation, that is to the Church generation. The likeliest meaning of the words is that Enoch, the seventh and so on, will prophesy, saying, "behold the Lord cometh," and so on to close of Jud_1:15.
While there is good reason for thinking that these two witnesses may be Enoch and Elijah, the two men of Bible record, one before the Flood and one after, who were distinctively God's witnesses, and were taken away without death, yet it is best not to stop over a matter that has been and is apt to be a matter of mere idle speculative talk. [Note: In regard to Elijah, see Mal_4:5-6.] John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and of him our Lord said, "this is he who was to come.]" The thing worthy of note is that as the Holy Spirit's distinctive witness is withdrawn there will be these two special witnesses sent to Jerusalem for a witness that will be world-wide in its extent and influence. Such is God's gracious patience and longsuffering.
These two men are clothed in mourning as a part of their witness. They have miraculous power in protecting themselves against attack, and in withholding rain, and sending plagues among the people, and in turning water into blood, to give force and effect to their testimony. Their witness continues through twelve hundred and sixty days.
John had already been told that Jerusalem would be trodden under foot by the nations for forty-two months. We are apt to think that it has been trodden under foot or desecrated by the nations for an immensely longer period. But prophecy never gives any reckoning of time for Israel, except when Israel is an organized nation. It is concerned with telling Jewish national events.
At this time the Jews have their national organization again in Palestine. For forty-two months after the nation has been newly set up the city will be so trodden under the desecrating feet of the nations. This is the first hint of time we have had. The witnessing and the desecration of the holy city will continue side by side for three and a half years.
At the end of this period evil will be given full swing over these witnesses. They are killed and their bodies left lying in the streets, while the international crowds make merry because their tormentors, as these two are called, are gone. Then before the terror-stricken gaze of these crowds the two men come to life, and are caught up into the heavens. Is this the moment when all are caught up? Quite possibly. Then comes the terrible earthquake as at the end of the other two views.
The one distinctive thing told here is that during the tribulation, in the midst of all the blasphemous reign of unrestrained wickedness, there will be the unbroken, faithful witnessing. This seems to explain why the account comes as a parenthesis in the account of the awful riot of evil. During the worst of the evil there will go on unbroken the faithful, gracious testimony of God's truth and love.