Points Against A Double End Times Theophany by Scott Noble
(The Two Witnesses of Rev 11 are not the Father and the Holy Spirit)
- The whole speculation by Peter Danzey that it is “probable” that the two witnesses of Rev 11 are the Father and the Holy Spirit (I don’t know of anyone else who has suggested this interpretation) is founded on multiple unproven assumptions and biblically inconsistent interpretations.
- “Out of themselves” in Zech 4:12 cannot be proven from the Hebrew. When the various versions of the Bible are not in agreement on how to translate this phrase, it is better left alone, rather than basing an entire dogmatic doctrine on a “maybe/unlikely” rendering of the Hebrew. That is a bad foundation to begin with. The ESV for example, omits this phrase…
KJV: Zec 4:12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
ESV: Zec 4:12 And a second time I answered and said to him, “What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out?”
If I pour oil out of myself, it still does not mean that I am the ultimate source of that oil (what do I have that I did not receive--- I Cor 4:7). But, there are still many versions that don’t have that “out of themselves” rendering. The Luther Bible doesn’t, and the Schlachter version of the German, also doesn’t. To make a dogmatic stand on a controversial, and improbable rendering is not a good foundation for a doctrine. Brenton’s English Septuagint doesn’t have it-- modern versions like the ESV and CEV, and even the NKJV don’t have it.
The two words in question are in the Strong’s numbers H4480 and H5921; both of which are vague and multi-meaning words. We could not dogmatically take these as saying that the source is out of themselves.
- Why would two divine theophanies need to be given anything or empowered? When comparing Zech 4 with Rev 11:3, instead of having the source of oil “out of themselves,” in Rev 11:3, the two witnesses are empowered/granted authority by the Lord. This would be totally unnecessary if they were self-sufficient beings having the oil flowing “out of themselves.” Rev 11:3 thus renders the “out of themselves”/divine witnesses viewpoint invalid.
- It assigns an insulting name to the Father and the Holy Spirit: To call the Father and the Holy Spirit “sons of oil” (The literal Hebrew rendering from Zechariah 4:14) doesn’t seem very honorific. Here instead of being the source of the oil, they are in a subservient role to the oil, being “sons”—which is also another point against “out of themselves.”
Zec 4:14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones [sons of oil] who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
Keil and Delitzsch write, “…the two sons of oil, that is to say, the representatives of the kingdom and priesthood, the divinely appointed organs through which the Spirit of God was communicated to the covenant nation.”
- The verse people love to quote in this chapter is, “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” In the divine witnesses interpretation of the Father and Holy Spirit providing oil, this should be “but by my spirit and by the Father.” In that interpretation the suppliers of the oil are the Father and the Spirit. So, why is only the Spirit mentioned here, as the supplier in Zech 4:6?
- Peter Danzey thinks that the Menorah in Zech 4 represents the Word of God, and that the olive branches supplying it are thus divine. Most Christian commentators would see the Menorah as Israel, and the two olive branches as two anointed representatives of Israel in leadership roles. We see clearly in the book of Revelation that the candlesticks are the seven churches. The same Greek word that is used in Rev 1, is the same Greek word that is used in Rev 11 of the two witnesses. Regardless of the numbers—whether 7 or 2, etc. we see that they are members of the Church. This shines light on the Zech 4 passage as well. If the candlesticks are the Church in the NT, then the logical counterpart to this in the OT is Israel, not the Word of God as some commentators assert. Thus Israel was being supplied by the two “sons of oil” or anointed ones—the representatives of God who were anointed, namely the king and the priest, who in turn were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Please see Appendix A for commentators who see the Candlestick/ Menorah as Israel.
- In the book of Zech we had ONE candlestick and TWO olive trees. But now in Rev we have TWO of each. The TWO olive trees are a constant factor, which I believe to be “the representatives of the kingdom and priesthood [e.g. Zerubbabel and Joshua; Moses and Aaron; etc.]” in the words of the German commentators (and also in most Christian commentaries—not that commentaries are without fault, but let everything be confirmed by two or three witnesses—and all the more so if they are believers in the Messiah). Why only one candlestick in Zech 4 if it represents God’s Word, but then two candlesticks in Rev 11—does it then represent the two testaments of the Word of God? But, this is not consistent with what the book of Revelation itself says the candlesticks represent (Revelation 1:20). If the Father and the Holy Spirit are both taking on the name “the Word of God” in Rev 11 (which is the name used by Jesus, so that is unwarranted), why were there not two candlesticks in Zech 4 (another inconsistency in this speculation built on many assumptions).
- Jesus' incarnation was prophesied hundreds of times in the Old Testament. If the Father and Holy Ghost are to be incarnated as the two witnesses, why are there no prophecies of this? "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)
- When was the Father ever sent in the Bible? In Revelation 11:10 the two witnesses are also called the two prophets. True prophets are always sent by God. In the Bible we have verses about Jesus being sent (Luke 4:18), and the Holy Ghost being sent for believers (John 15:26), but we do not see the Father ever being sent. Also, although Jesus was called a prophet (Matthew 13:57; 14:5; 21:11; 21:46; Luke 7:16; 13:33; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17), we do not see the Holy Ghost or the Father being called a prophet. In Deuteronomy 18:18, we are to expect only one prophet who is "like unto Moses," which is Jesus, not three prophets like unto Moses.
- Rev 11 should be compared with Zech 2-4, not just 4 (no chapter breaks in the original texts). Taking the two olive trees and the two candlesticks to be two human representatives of the Church and Israel, just as Joshua and Zerubbabel were in the context of Zech chapters 2-4, considering that Zech 2 starts with "measuring" and Zech 4 ends with the two olive trees/branches, just as Rev 11:1 starts with "measuring" and continues with talking about the two olive trees. So, taking chapters 2-4 as one "unit" would include both Joshua and Zerubbabel in the topic at hand. Why eliminate or ignore Joshua and Zerubbabel’s role in the context of Zech 2-4, since the majority of Christian commentators point to them as fulfilling the meaning of the olive trees?
- Also, in the Bible God is not the Olive Tree, which the End Times Double Theophany view implies, but Israel is (Rom 11). There are no verses in the Bible comparing God to an olive tree, but there are verses comparing Israel or members of Israel to an olive tree.
David compares himself to an olive tree: Psa_52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
Jacob under judgment was like the shaking of an olive tree: Isa 17:6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
The people of Judah and Jerusalem were called an olive tree: Jer 11:16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
Israel’s beauty shall be as the olive tree: Hos 14:5-6 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
In Romans 11 Israel is the olive tree into which believers in the Messiah are grafted in.
- If the End Times Double Theophany doctrine about Rev 11 is correct, which I don’t think it is, then why not just teach it openly, putting the sermon online? With any other biblical doctrine, preachers teach it openly. The fact that this has been kept somewhat secret, for five years or however long this has been believed, should say something (red flag). It is a strange doctrine, and would rightly get a lot of naysayers from among biblically minded Christians if it were put on YouTube. But, I’m actually glad a sermon of Rev 11 hasn’t been put online, because it would just cause confusion, instead of building people up with sound doctrine.
- An End Times Double Theophany COULD NOT EVEN be considered a “type” of the Genesis 18-19 Abraham visitation (which in itself has not been proven to be a visitation by the trinity—most Christian scholars see this as Jesus appearing with two angels). In Rev 11 we don’t see three visitors--- which would be required to call this following a previous “type,” but rather only two visitors. So, Gen 18-19 is in a totally different category than Rev 11.
- Also, in the incarnation of Jesus, the entire trinity was already involved—The Holy Spirit was present with Jesus, empowering Him for ministry, and Jesus listened to the Father’s voice, acting in accordance to His will. Why is there any need for the Father and Holy Spirit to come again separately in the role of prophets who are slain? This is not prophesied, nor is it foreshadowed in typology, nor is it in keeping with the consistently biblical roles within the trinity.
- When does God the Father ever appear in a theophany in the Bible? We don’t see this. “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father” (John 6:46). Exodus 23:20 has been suggested by Peter Danzey, but this is an assumption without warrant. Taking the entire context of that verse, beginning with Exodus chapter 19, we see that the Lord did come down (Jesus), but that the law was spoken “from heaven” (Exodus 20:22). Whenever in the Bible we see the Lord speaking from heaven, it is usually the Father. Even if he was speaking with Moses on the mountain, it does not mean that he was physically present. God the Father is omnipresent, but His “base of operations” so to speak, is in heaven (“Our Father which are in heaven” --Matthew 6:9).
In modern terms I could say that I hear someone’s voice from America, even though I live in Thailand. Someone from America could call me on the phone, and though they are not physically present with me, I can hear their voice. God’s “technology” is far beyond that, and He can speak “from heaven” even if He is not theophonically present. Please see Appendix B.
- In Rev 11:8, the KJV says “our Lord,” but many modern versions say “their Lord.” This is a debatable point based on which Greek texts are used, but if the modern texts are correct then it would be strange for “their Lord” to be in reference to the Father and Holy Spirit, meaning that Jesus would be the Lord of the Father and Holy Spirit. The final verse of Zech 4 in both Hebrew and in the LXX indicates that the Two are distinct from The Lord and not The Lord (lending credence to the translation of Rev 11:3 'their Lord'). However, Peter Danzey (although not KJV-only) believes that the Textus Receptus is more accurate, and doesn’t claim that the two witnesses called Jesus “their Lord.”
- The commentators Meyer and Bengel think that the two witnesses of Rev 11 will be crucified (please see Appendix C). This is definitely a possibility, but all of the other commentaries I checked do not mention this, and of note, none of the English translations say that the witnesses will be crucified. So, it is a possibility, but not an irrefutable point, seeing the way Greek scholars have omitted this in translating it into English. Also, Peter Danzey’s particular view says the witnesses will be slain, but not crucified. He thinks they will be slain, but that this is in no way related to the atonement. He believes Jesus fully accomplished the atonement already.
- Why do the two witnesses in Rev 11:7 need to be killed by the beast? When Jesus became a man his death had a redemptive purpose. What is the purpose of the beast getting victory over the Father and the Holy Ghost? Is it to fill up the people’s sins so that the full wrath of God can be poured out? I don't see that as a satisfactory answer, because people already have plenty of sins and blasphemies without this one. When some of Jesus’ disciples were crucified they proved their faithfulness and also confirmed the witness they gave about Jesus’ life. But, what possible purpose could there be in the death of the Father and the Holy Spirit? This is a strange doctrine that would give the enemies of the Jesus much fodder for accusation (Muslims already stumble at hearing that Jesus died on the cross, but that one is very much explainable).
- Why would the Father and HS come in the character of Moses and Elijah? Moses said God would raise up a prophet like unto me (not three prophets like unto me).
- Producing uncertainty in the Word of God: In the message, “Angels On Earth” by Peter Danzey (May 5th, 2019), (Peter Danzey thinks Genesis 18 and 19 are related to the Rev 11 “probable” theophanies) at the 1:02 min. mark said, “Now, there is no doubt that there are some oddities if they are created angels, right? There are oddities, but if they are all Yahweh, there’s not one oddity.”
If someone does not agree with the assumptions made in the previous message, it could leave them wondering if there are oddities in the Word of God. Please see Appendix D for just a few of the assumptions made in that message.
What Does the Menorah Represent?
- In Rev 11:3-4 each of the two witnesses represents both an olive tree and a candlestick.
- Rev 1:20 clearly states what category the candlestick belongs to—the Church. In that sense the two witnesses are members of Jesus’ Church having this characteristic as part of being a candlestick symbolically.
- The witnesses are also represented by an olive tree, which in Scripture is overwhelmingly Israel or a member of Israel.
- The two witnesses are thus members of both the Church and Israel—in other words they are Jewish Christians.
- In the book of Revelation, the candlestick (Menorah) is in the category of the Church. The counterpart to this in the OT is Israel. In Zech 4, there is only ONE candlestick (Israel), whereas in the NT, there are TWO, representing both Israel and the Church.
Why quote from Jewish commentators who think otherwise, when many of the Jews did not even recognize their own Messiah? Commentators who have accepted their Messiah whether Jewish or Gentile, and who have the full light of the NT to understand the OT have greater authority here. Christian commentators who say the Menorah is Israel…
John Gill says, “This candlestick was set in the holy place, on the south side of it, opposite the shewbread table, Exo_26:35 and was typical of the church of God; so the candlesticks John had a vision of signify seven churches, Rev_1:13, the general use of which is, to hold forth light put into it, for it has none of itself, but what is put there by Christ…”
Keil and Delitzsch say, “As the Israelites were to prepare spiritual food in the shew-bread in the presence of Jehovah…. so also were they to present themselves continually to Jehovah in the burning lamps, as the vehicles and media of light, as a nation letting its light shine in the darkness of this world…. By the power of this Spirit, Israel, in covenant with the Lord, was to let its light shine, the light of its knowledge of God and spiritual illumination, before all the nations of the earth. In its seven arms the stamp of the covenant relationship was impressed upon the candlestick…. the olive-trees [of Zech 4] are the two sons of oil, that is to say, the representatives of the kingdom and priesthood, the divinely appointed organs through which the Spirit of God was communicated to the covenant nation [Israel, the Menorah].”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “In Zechariah's vision of the golden candlestick (Zec_4:2), the seven lamps are fed by two olive trees which are interpreted to be “the two anointed ones,” Zerubbabel and Joshua - the civil and spiritual representatives of theocracy. The candlestick here, like the seven candlesticks in Rev_1:20, 21, symbolizes the church of God, then in its Old Testament form, the idea conveyed being that God's church is set to be a lightgiver in the world.”
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown in their comment on Zech 4:2, say, “candlestick — symbolizing the Jewish theocracy; and ultimately, the Church of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the light-bearer…”
The Cambridge Bible commentary says, “…the work in which he [Zerubbabel] was engaged, of restoring the material Temple and setting the golden candlestick in its place again, and so preparing the way, first for the Jewish Church, and then for the Christian Church, which that candlestick symbolised(Rev_1:20), to shine in the world, should be accomplished, not by human resources, but by the Spirit of God…”
Joseph Benson says, “And I said, Behold a candlestick of gold — This represented the church of God, Jewish and Christian, set up for the enlightening of this dark world, by diffusing the light of divine truth.”
The Sermon Bible says, “By the candelabrum was symbolised the Israelitish community, the nation of the old covenant, the people of theocracy. But Israel was itself a symbol and type; it was the visible manifestation of that invisible spiritual community, the Church of the living God, which embraces the faithful of all ages and places. It is represented as made of the most precious of metals, pure gold, to indicate the worth and excellence of that which God hath chosen for Himself as His special treasure; and it is represented as having seven lamps, to indicate that the Church is a luminous body, having light in itself, and appearing as the luminary from which proceeds light to the world.”
Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts equates the lampstand of Zech 4 to Israel.
Bill Randles in the book “God Remembers: The Visions and Words of the Prophet Zechariah,” says, “The candlestick is the symbol of the role of Israel as the witness to the Gentiles, and to the glory of the only true God. Israel was the original ‘city of a hill’ referred to in the Sermon on the Mount. Isaiah and Micah both feature visions of the nations streaming to Zion to come into the light of God’s salvation.”
Our Father Which Art in Heaven
In the book of Matthew especially there is an emphasis on God the Father being in heaven. This is stated fifteen times in the book of Matthew! We are supposed to direct our prayers to our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). In both the OT and the NT we see that God spoke from heaven and heard prayers from heaven. Four times it’s stated by Solomon that heaven is God’s dwelling place from which God would hear prayer—this is recorded twice so that it’s actually stated eight times in the Bible (I Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 6).
Using the same two Hebrew words as in Solomon’s prayer (“shamayim” and “yashab”), God the Father is said to be sitting in the heavens and then setting His king (Jesus) on Zion (Psalm 2:4-6). Twenty times in Scripture, God is called “the God of heaven.”
God sent rain from heaven, sometimes stopped the rain from heaven, looked down from heaven, sent bread from heaven, etc.
Voice From Heaven
God spoke to the children of Israel from heaven. Moses was not excluded from this conversation in Exodus 20:22. We consistently see especially in the NT, God the Father speaking from heaven. God told Moses in Exodus 19:11 to get the people ready, because the Lord would be coming down (Just as in the NT Jesus is the One who declares and shows the ways of the Father, so in the OT, Jesus also did—John 1:18).
In the book of John, it is said eight times that Jesus “came down/cometh down” from heaven. We see various other times that Jesus “went down” in the OT, such as to the tower of Babel (Gen 11:5), to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:21, which he did do before sending judgement in Gen 19:24). And, it makes sense that in Exodus 3:8; 19:11; 19:18; 19:20 and 34:5, it is also Jesus, the Lord, who came down, not the Father. The Father’s voice was heard from heaven, which is clearly stated in Ex 20:22, just as in modern times a person may call a friend half way around the world, and that friend can hear their voice, even if they are not physically present.
We see consistently in Scripture that Jesus is the One who comes down in physical form and declares the ways of the Father, both in the OT and the NT, and that the Father operates from heaven, though He is omnipresent, just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also.
The Father Speaking From Heaven
---Exo 20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
---Neh 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:
---2Sa 22:14 The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
---Mat 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
---Mar 1:11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
---Luk 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
---Joh 12:28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
---2Pe 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
2Pe 1:18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
---Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
---Rev 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
---Rev 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
---Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
---Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Fire From Heaven
Seeing that consistency in Scripture, it also makes sense that it was Jesus who visited Abraham on earth, and who was overseeing the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah on earth, while God the Father was in heaven:
--- Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
---2Ki 1:10;12;14…Fire fell twice, consuming those coming to get Elijah
---1Ch 21:26…on an altar David built to show him favor
---2Ch 7:1…on the sacrifices made by Solomon, showing him favor
---Rev 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Commentators Who Think The Two Witnesses Will Be Crucified
Meyer wrote, “Again, the text itself shows this, partly by the καὶ before ὁ κύρ. αὐτ., partly by the expression ὁ κύρ. αὐτων. Both belong inwardly together; as the two witnesses, so also their Lord was there slain, crucified; the servants have suffered the same thing as their Lord. This is accordingly made prominent, because from this it becomes clear that the antichristian enmity of the great city remains always the same; with the same hatred as that wherewith they formerly once brought the Lord there to the cross, they now slay the two witnesses just because they are his witnesses.”
Bengel wrote, “In the text they are not said to lie. What, if you should suppose that they will be suspended, as their Lord also was suspended from the cross?.... Whether the city has the place of the cross within the walls at the present day, or has not (for travellers are at variance with one another, and those who deny it, do so with far greater appearance of truth), at the time of the witnesses, at least, it will undoubtedly have the place of the cross in the street, either within the walls or without”
The message, “Angels On Earth” (May 5th, 2019) by Peter Danzey contains numerous assumptions. The following is not a comprehensive list, just a few randomly chosen:
---“Malak” almost certainly means a divine being?
In Gen 19:1 two angels went down to Sodom (Malak- messenger/angel can be the angel of the Lord—Jesus. But often times Malak is used in the OT not referring to a divine being at all—almost half of the times the KJV translates Malak it is messenger[s], ten times it’s used of angels plural and about five times of ambassadors—we cannot assume the use of Malak to mean a divine person). Even if we limit the search to only the Pentateuch, which is an unreasonable limitation when we’re looking for the possible meanings of the word—the Pentateuch uses this word 39 times, 9 of which do not mean a divine being, and 4 of which are debatable (in the message only 3 uses of “Malak” are mentioned which are “ambiguous”). To look only at the cases where “Malak” is a Christophany, and ignore literally over a hundred uses of “Malak” biases the hearers unreasonably.
---The Hebrew word “shachah” (H7812) can only mean worship?
When Lot bowed to the ground before the two angels in Gen 19:1, it doesn't necessarily mean worship, as it could be a cultural practice of just honor, submission, and respect. Using the same Hebrew word as in Gen 19:1, Jacob bowed to the ground before Esau in Gen 33:3, Ruth bowed to the ground before Boaz in Ruth 2:10, and the same is true of David before Jonathan, Abigail before David, and others.
---Only God can close the door?
We have angels opening doors in the NT. Why can they not close a door if God commands them to this task?
---Angels cannot eat with people?
What verse prohibits this?
---God does not consult with people/angels (Gen 18:17-19)?
Jesus consulted with His disciples before feeding the masses miraculously. Did He need to? No, He didn’t. He also asked other people questions of which He already knew the answer. So, it’s not out of character in Gen 18 if these are angels Jesus is talking to.
---Angels cannot deviate from previous instructions (Gen 19:2-3; 17-22).
This assumes we know what the instructions were, which we don’t. If a man sells some land, and goes through an agent, leaving the agent in charge and telling him you can lower the cost by xxxxx dollars if need be, the agent is still faithful if he sells the land on behalf of the man, lowering the cost to within what he specified. Likewise God could have given instructions with caveats, knowing what Lot would ask for. If the two “angels” are God, the following verse does not sound very sovereignly authoritative: Gen 19:22 “Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”
This message is a stepping stone to the Rev 11 double theophanies proposed by Peter Danzey, but a case that is based on unproven assumptions is not very convincing. I didn’t take a lot of time to look into every point, but just the fact that there are the above unproven assumptions shows that it’s not a slam dunk case, especially when most Christian commentators would see Gen 18-19 as a theophany of Jesus appearing with two angels.