This is a continuation of my series reviewing The Book of Revelation: Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass by G. Erik Brandt. Today, I will be discussing Chapter 11 of the book, which itself discusses Chapter 11 of Revelation.
The second part of the chapter deals with the Lord calling two witnesses that are described as being clothed in sackcloth, and as"the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." (Rev. 11:3-4). Sackcloth was the roughest of fabrics, only worn by the poorest of people, and traditionally was worn during periods of grief and mourning; and, for these reasons, also became a symbol of humility. (See, e.g., Jonah 3:5 where the people put on sackcloth as part of their process of repentance). Brandt views the reference to them as olive trees and candlesticks as being both the oil and lamps to Israel, bringing the light of Christ. I would also note, though, that olive trees are sometimes representative of Israel or its tribes (see Jacob chapter 5). Thus, the olive tree reference may be reference to the two being representatives of righteous groups of the tribes of Israel: Ephraim and Manasseh, most likely.
Brandt also notes that "[t]he reference to candlesticks draws meaning from the writings of Zechariah, who spoke of two ancient candlesticks: Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the descendant of David, who was the heir to the throne of Israel."
In addition to preaching the gospel, the two shall also serve to defend Jerusalem. Brandt notes that "[l]ike the prophets Moses and Enoch, they will exercise their priesthood to call down plagues and destruction on the advancing foe." (See Ezek. 38:22-23). It should be noted, however, that the defense of Jerusalem will be because the Lord wishes to show his power. The Revelation describes Jerusalem as being like Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:8) in its wickedness and corruption.
Once their ministry is completed, like many others before them, the two witneses will seal their testimony with their own blood, killed by the Beast. However, after 3 days--the time considered to be "truly dead"--the two witnesses will be raised from the dead (probably resurrected), and taken into Heaven. Then, there will be a great earthquake that destroy a tenth of the city and kill 7,000. That the number of dead is so low will probably be a testament to modern building codes; but Brandt believes that these numbers are symbolic. That is, that "a tenth" and "7,000" represent a full measure and completeness, respectively, and indicating that all of the cabal that plotted against the two prophets will be killed.
The earthquake shall not be limited to just Jerusalem, but will be a great earthquake "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great." (Rev. 16:18; see also Ezek. 38:19-20). Brandt continues: "Both modern and ancient prophecies reveal that this great quake is touched off when the Holy One of Israel descends to earth and touches the Mount of Olives," which will split in two and provide a refuge for those Jews fleeing Jerusalem. The armies of Magog will also be destroyed (see Ezek. 39). It should be noted that Jerusalem lies along the great division of tectonic plates that also created the Rift Valley in Africa, so that a major earthquake along the length of the fault would stretch all the way from east Central Africa into Asia Minor. However, this may be but part of a larger tectonic upset of the whole earth. And, we are told, this earthquake shall affect all nations. (Rev. 6:4). In any event, this earthquake is the end of the second woe, or group of disasters against the wicked prior to the Lord's coming.
It should be noted that this earthquake will be touched off by Christ alighting upon the Mount of Olives, which will split in two to provide a route to freedom for the Jews fleeing Jerusalem. There, Christ will reveal Himself to those Jews, including the marks in his hands and feet and in his side, and will have to acknowledge Him and the truth of his Gospel.
This also marks the beginning of the third woe, when "the Lord, Himself, will come to 'fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle' (Zech. 14:2; 12:3)." According to the Revelation, "[a]nd the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Rev. 11:19). The winds and ferocity of the storm will be such that it will carry away men and destroy the crops of the earth (D&C 26:16), and some of the hail stones will weigh a talent (~ 70 lbs.) (Rev. 16:21). Many will flee to caves and crevices of rock, and call upon the rocks to tumble down and hide them from the fury of the Lord. (Luke 21:26; Moses 7:66; D&C 45:26).