But let's get back to the Historical side of prophecy. As I've said several times already, Revelation can't be understood with a Futuristic-only bias. I'm thoroughly convinced the "two witnesses" has an altogether other meaning in addition to the two-person, "tribulation" witnesses. Let's look now at an entirely different, and I believe more plausible, explanation of the following passage.




When I first attempted serious study of this passage (at the time basically believing the Futuristic-only concept), certain words would occasionally trouble my spirit as I would come across them. Today I'm convinced that 'troubling' was the Holy Spirit prompting me. Seeing deeper spiritual truth which over-rides plain and straight-forward truth (i.e., the Law of Double Reference) had already taken root in me because of a few other passages. I now believe that's how God prepared me for Revelation 11. There were three words in particular in the above two verses which got my attention---sackcloth, olive tree and candlesticks. Let's take a closer look, one at a time.


In the Old Testament sense, sackcloth was a garment prophets wore to identify them as a prophet of God. More importantly, it came to be known as a sign of repentance because of the stinging messages the prophets would deliver. So, to understand the spiritual significance (i.e., realizing what God wants us to know) of the word "sackcloth", we are to concentrate on repentance, not the actual material the garment was made of. The type of cloth was obviously just the symbol the apostle John used to convey a deeper truth. Sackcloth in itself is no more the intended meaning here than assuming the "10 horned beast" of Revelation 13 signifies some kind of literal, weird animal! Therefore, to see what John was really driving at, forget about the witnesses' wardrobe. Think REPENTANCE!

Thus, as we seek to identify the "two witnesses", an outstanding characteristic we should note about them is that they, like John the Baptist and Elijah, would preach repentance from "dead works". So, before concentrating on who they actually are, we must first agree that the "two witnesses" would be strong proclaimers of the fundamental Gospel message. By that I mean they would place major emphasis on the fact that man is sinful and must turn from his wicked ways and seek God's salvation through Christ Jesus, not relying on his own self goodness to save him. Thus, in summary, the teaching is simply this: sackcloth = preaching the true Gospel.


Why did John refer to the "two witnesses" as "olive trees"? What a strange thing to say! As with "sackcloth", to see the light of this we must determine the symbolic meaning of the "olive tree". (Are you catching on to this idea of the LODR? It's fun of the best kind when the light dawns!)

The olive tree was the most valuable tree to ancient peoples. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The oriental nations viewed the olive tree for its beauty, strength, divine blessings, prosperity, signs of friendship and peace. Therefore, even if we regard ancient knowledge outside the Holy Scriptures, we see that the old world understood the special values surrounding the olive tree. Obviously there was wisdom, secular and spiritual, behind John's usage of the term "olive tree" for the "two witnesses".

2. The olive tree was valued for its oil resources. When we think of oil in the Biblical sense, we think of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the obvious point here is that the Holy Spirit would be working supernaturally upon and within these "two witnesses". To the Jew, the olive tree was a symbol of fruitfulness, again typifying the Holy Spirit, thus indicating God would provide his "two witnesses" with great ABUNDANCE.

3. The olive tree was a sign of grace and peace given by God. The first and most notable symbol was when the dove returned with an olive branch to Noah's Arc letting him know that the land was being uncovered after the flood.

4. Zechariah's vision: The Old Testament prophet Zechariah sheds some light concerning the "two witnesses". (Zech. 4:12-14)

"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? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."

Now most prophetic writers agree that the apostle John alluded to these two "anointed ones" which the prophet Zechariah saw. However, most interpret these two special 'oil conduits' as Elijah and Moses (or Elijah and Enoch), completely missing the important Historical aspect I'm convinced the symbolism portrays.

To summarize the underlying meaning of the "olive tree", look at what John really said: The "two witnesses" would be noted for certain attributes which God extended to them---peace, Holy Spirit empowerment, fruitfulness, abundance, channels of blessings towards others, beauty, strength, divine blessings of their own, prosperity, and signs of friendship. Now that puts things into better perspective than merely visualizing an actual "olive tree", does it not? (Anchor these traits in your mind and as we move along I think you'll soon get the picture I did.)


A lampstand's function is to hold a light source. In ancient times, the stand was placed in a high, prominent place so that the torch could shed its illumination widely into the surrounding darkness. (The torch-lit towns and villages set on hills in Jesus' day typified this.) On the human side, John the Baptist represented such a lampstand, Jesus referring to him as a "burning and shining light...", (Jn. 5:35). John (acting like a "lamp") openly delivered strong sermons that sinners should repent. (From this, we can see why Jesus referred to John as Elijah, Jesus also foreseeing that the "Elijah task" in the last days would likewise see two more such lampstand-witnesses set on certain 'hills' as God's representatives.)

So, whatever, or whoever, the two "lampstands" are, their purpose is clear: that of giving light to the spiritually-dark world. On a strictly physical plane, as I think of the "two witnesses", I picture two seacoast lighthouses which are designed to alert those at sea of nearby danger. When you get right down to it, that's what preaching is all about: warning people who are lost in the 'sea-of-humanity' that they are about to go aground if they don't turn around (repent) and flee to safety in the "Ark of Christ."


I purposely postponed until now what I consider to be the most important of all the "witness" characteristics: power. (Check your translation of verse three and see if it uses the word "power" as one of the gifts from God to the "two witnesses".) A more literal rendering of the Greek word would be 'of me', instead of power; meaning God would give of Himself to the "two witnesses". The implication is that the power which would go out from the "two witnesses" would be God-power, not their own.


Now, before going on to verse 5, let's summarize the five characteristics of the two witnesses covered so far:

1. They would have God's 'of Me' power;

2. they would prophesy (preach and teach) for 1260 "days";

3. they would be clothed in sackcloth --- i.e., their main message would be that sinners need to come to repentance;

4. they would be known as olive trees, which means that abundant blessings would be theirs; and finally,

5. they would be lampstands standing before the God of the earth, meaning they would reflect God's righteousness towards others.

Now as I think of all these terms collectively, a few serious questions come to mind. First, if God meant the "two witnesses" were only two people, like Elijah and Moses (or Elijah and Enoch), why didn't He just simply come right out and say it? After all, the prophet Malachi named Elijah, saying he would come and restore all things. (With Jesus' Own personal interpretation we know now that Malachi was referring to John the Baptist.) If God wanted John to convey that only two persons would come and prepare the way for Him in a brief, 3 1/2 year tribulation period, I can see absolutely no logical reason to mask the "two witnesses" in all the symbolic-word format. Surely, if only two men were meant, He would have either told us their names, or left no reason to interpret the two witnesses other than two people.

Before attempting a commentary on Revelation 11, I had already become convinced the book was a prophetic portrayal of long-range proportions. As I read and studied the verses outlined above, it caused me to wonder how might the subject of the "two witnesses" fit into the Historical framework rather than assuming a mere literal, 1260-day period. Pondering this one day I wondered, "Wouldn't it be more reasonable that the two witnesses represented conglomerate entities?" That is, God fore-seeing two large masses of Christian people in two separate places, identifying all of them with the designation, "two witnesses".

A few writers who have believed in the Historical perspective have suggested the two witnesses are perhaps the Old and New Testaments, or Judaism and Christianity, and things of this sort. While some of these ideas seem to have a little merit, they won't hold up as one views all the characteristics John listed for us to examine in Revelation Eleven. When an identification is attempted, one must look for something that won't break down anywhere.

More evidence is forth-coming but it's now time to tell you who I believe the "two witnesses" are. I'm convinced they are nations! There are two national entities which have been endowed with both physical and spiritual abundance, surpassing other nations so much that I'm amazed other writers haven't made the correlation. Many have seen the power and influence in them, but not the Biblical identity. The historical powers, (both secular and spiritual) which I'm persuaded fit the complete, prophetic picture is --- The Church within Great Britain and the United States of America.


Even if the reader is becoming convinced about the Historical aspect of Revelation, there will probably be many skeptical questions arise at this point. So, let's address a few which I can already anticipate.

1. Why do I think whole nations are meant by the "two witnesses"?

There are many reasons. First, practically all of Revelation deals with national organizations, such as the "ten horns" of Revelation 13 which refers to ten nations, or the "city" of Revelation 18, which must be taken as an all-inclusive word actually signifying many cities of the world, (to be discussed later), etc. Knowing this understanding is even accepted by many other prophetic writers caused me to ask why not the 'two witnesses' also?

Take the "horn" for example:

First, Scripturally, sometimes a "horn" refers to a single individual but more often indicates entire nations. (It seems to always be true in Revelation.) The context determines which is meant. However, everybody knows that even the 'horns' may not be fully identifiable until the time of fulfillment approaches.

Secondly, the symbolic characteristics which John used to describe the "two witnesses" fit the idea of nations far more accurately than simply two persons.

Thirdly, these New Testament "prophets" would have power to affect the whole earth (verse 6). That was not a typical characteristic of the ancient, singular prophets, whose ministry generally affected local situations. (Now this is not to say that God couldn't anoint two individuals to have this kind of influence. I just believe it is not the case and I have many reasons for saying this which will be further explained ahead.)

2. Some will say, "But Britain and the USA aren't Christian nations today. In fact, they are becoming the world-centers of ungodliness and immorality, a modern type of Babylon. So how can you possibly identify them as God's primary 'two witnesses' on the earth?"

It may surprise you to learn this is exactly what the Scriptures call for when the "testimony" of the "two witnesses" draws to a close. (To be discussed shortly).

3. Some people ask, "Lance, don't you know God is no respecter of persons? Your idea suggests He is."

Many have missed the point of this Scripture. Essentially it means that anyone who believes the Gospel and are willing to come to Christ can be saved. It certainly can't be construed to mean God doesn't sometimes select and/or specially-gift certain individuals, groups, and yes, even nations. As I've faced this question before, it causes me to wonder if the inquisitor has carefully looked at Scriptural precedence. The whole Bible is filled with examples of God's sovereign selection (or 'election') process that He has used to identify Himself and His ways to others. It was true in ancient history. It is true today.

Now, it is quite accurate to say that God's salvation is adequate for every individual in the whole world (God being no "respecter" of persons) but we cannot extend this understanding to the degree of eliminating God's right to choose for special ministry both individuals, and/or, nations, as a part of His Divine Plan of the ages. That's the real meaning of the Scripture "...many are called but few are chosen." Matt. 20:16.

4. Others have said to me, "Lance, I've heard of what you are saying here. It's called 'British Israelism'".

That was the response from a pastor who read the first draft of this book. At the time, I had never heard the term "British Israelism"! But as I understand it, there arose a belief by certain groups in England a number of years ago (perhaps centuries) that they had been given the 'mantle' of what was once Israel's. The story goes that since Israel rejected God's Messiah, God rejected Israel and subsequently transferred His power to another nation --- namely England. Hence, British Israelism was born. Great Britain, according to this thesis, became the new "Israel".

Now, I want the reader to hear me loud and clear here. My classification of Great Britain as one of the "two witnesses" has nothing to do with British Israelism. I've learned that this belief is deeply rooted in the Old Testament but I find no passage which would either directly or indirectly lend support to these ideas. My view of the "witnesses" is New Testament teaching, born out of seeing and rationally-relating several allegorical Scriptures to an abundance of actual historical facts. Regardless of how it may look now, before I'm through, you'll see that what I present is not at all a statement of national pride as is the case of "Britism Israelism"! Those who confuse my understanding with these concepts are making a gross error. As you can see from my comments above, that is not how I arrived at the understanding, nor is my interpretation that of the "British Israelites".

Herbert Armstrong (now deceased), former head of the World Wide Church of God, taught strongly concerning America in Biblical prophecy. As with all cultic concepts, we Christians might agree with them on certain facts, but on the whole, Armstrong's understanding is more like (perhaps exactly like) "British Israelism". His view is not mine at all.

There are others (Christians) who teach fragmentary concepts about Britain and America in Biblical prophecy. They get their ideas from terms such as "ships of Tarshish", certain "islands", or "young lions", and things like that, from verses scattered throughout the Old Testament. Some of these views may have merit but this is not where my thinking originated either nor is it the way I base my concepts. What I have discovered is a broad, straight-forward, clear identification of God's primary "witnesses" that He would use for a period of 1260 years during the Christian era.


From my readings and listening to large T. V. and radio ministries, I conclude most preachers are very much aware of the Christian roots and Christian heritage of G. B. and America. Today especially, many ministers are even trying to affect our local and national governments by reminding politicians of the facts that many of our founding fathers were Christians who strongly influenced America's beginning. I agree with them but have gone one step farther. I have identified us not merely as nations which 'just happened' to have a lot of foundational Christian input but rather that we were actually chosen and set aside by God from the beginning. We are more than nations which have shown a measure of love for God; rather we are nations which possessed the "of Me" power of Almighty God.

Some may feel my identification of the "two witnesses" is prideful. Actually, just the opposite is true. The idea that Britain and America have been "christian" nations is far more arrogant than my position. What I'm saying gives God the glory, whose honor it is. What others are saying gives man the glory. Their ideas are based on the understanding that Christian men have done the things which have given us our rich blessings and heritage. On the other hand what I'm saying is that God chose the sites and the people He would anoint.

I see it much like the prophet Elijah throwing his mantle across the shoulders of his follower, Elisha. Elisha didn't even know what had been done to him. Similarly, Britain and America's power was a result of God throwing the 'mantles' across our shoulders and we likewise haven't even known it. The same was true of John the Baptist. Jesus said John was Elijah, but we have no record that John ever understood this fact. Thus, to whatever degree we have been, and are, 'Christian' nations, is God's doing, not ours. He is the igniter; we are the matchstick.

I believe my concepts on the two witnesses fit the patterns and guidelines of Scripture. In my opinion, and I say this with due respect for the office they hold, with regards to prophecy, many ideas of pastor-teachers on prophecy do not.

I believe there are many, specially anointed men of God today whose ministry has been more thwarted by people within the Church than from without. They think themselves knowledgeable when, in fact, they are the blind in these areas. Let me conclude my 'beef' on this by leaving you with this Scripture; "Despise not prophesying". (1 Thess. 5:20.)

A note to pastors: (I realize there has been much abuse within the body of Christ on the spiritual gifts and the "offices" of ministry (Ephesians 4:11). In spite of everything I've said, which may seem offensive to some, I agree with much of the apprehension and reluctance in accepting the claims of many so-called and self-described "prophets" of Christ. In most cases it's a healthy, Godly skepticism. But being a Christian myself, believing God has touched me in several peculiar and distinctly-different ways, I must also disagree with the way many in Church leadership positions respond to people like me. The net result has been to throw the proverbial 'baby out with the bath water'. I'm convinced God has shown me these things so I feel I have no alternative but to share them with the body of Christ. Accept what you can.)

Now, let's move on. We must face the question of who is anointed in these two nations. Is it everyone or just the Christians? And what about Great Britain? Historically speaking, they have been spread virtually all over the world. Was it only mainland-England which received the gift or was the whole empire involved?

Let me address the last question first: Of the two, England was the easier to historically identify relative to the beginning date of the "witness" missions. In earlier days, as England spread their influence throughout the world, politically and otherwise, the Gospel went along with it. (From God's perspective, the Gospel was actually leading the way and the politico-mercantile movements only incidental to the greater endeavor --- evangelization.) And, as the British Empire grew, so grew godliness in the regions affected by England's outreach.

Now someone will say, "Lance, don't you know that the Gospel message was perverted by many of the English clergy?" Or, "do you not know of the atrocities which were committed among the 'such and such' group, or in the 'so and so' country by the British Empire builders?" Yes, I'm aware of these shortcomings. The Gospel has many times been distorted and abused in the past, and will, unfortunately, probably be so in the future. But that doesn't detract from the good that was done.

No, the British-Christian influence was not perfect. (Read the letters to the seven churches again. Rev. 2 & 3.) Perfection is not guaranteed --- even among God's anointed. It never has been. Jesus alone holds the distinction of a perfectly-maintained human life. It wasn't so in the anointed kings of Israel, the ancient prophets, the whole nation of Israel, nor even Jesus' apostles. Even Paul, who taught most of what we know about Christian' maturation, referred to himself as "chief of sinners".

No, we haven't been perfect, Christian nations. But, in my opinion, one has to be nearly blind not to see the unique blessings (reflecting the reality of the anointing) which has been the historical possession of the British and the Americans, regardless of how decadent our societies appear now. The downward trod shows the success Satan is having in our nations today. This makes it rather obvious he knows who we are. In fact, that's why the devil is trying to destroy us.


The Bible shows that anointing power from God is always manifested in a twofold way --- both physical and spiritual. It's as true of entire nations as of individuals. The blessings upon the British and the Americans has been (and still is) clearly manifested in the form of physical blessings and spiritual blessings.

On the physical blessing side, in terms of natural resources, and the ability to be resourceful outside their countries when needed, no nation has equalled the British and the Americans.

The spiritual blessings have been similarly countless. It is utterly awesome to simply look at the number of Christian churches in Great Britain and America. This remains true even until this day in spite of the soaring apostasy presently manifested in our lands.

An imporant spiritual blessing has been (and still remains so) the saved individuals who have been 'called out' here. Of equal importance is the missionary work which has followed in the wake of evangelization among our own people. The financing as well as the training of most missionaries has occurred in one of these two national structures. I believe this mission work is a fulfillment of the 1260-day prophesying by the two witnesses as spoken of in Revelation 11:3. Remember, the prophesying = the preaching of the Gospel. Individual Christian work is part of this prophesying but it also includes many Christian organizations which were birthed in one of these two nations. In combo, these represent a big part of THE GREAT COMMISSION(1).

Keep in mind, God has done this, not man. We have merely been His instrumental servants. What an awesome responsibility! But have we been completely faithful? Let me ask the Christian reader, are you faithful today to do your part in this "Elijah Task"? If you are truly a born-again Christian living in the land of one of the two witnesses, you are a part of the heritage. I'm sure there have been times when you have thanked God for the blessedness of just being born where you were. Some of you have probably had an inner feeling there was more to it than "good luck", too.

Now, does this understanding that you were actually chosen by God to be a part of His "witness" not stir up in you a sense of awe and responsibility? You and I have our parts in the mandate to reach others for Christ. I know you are thinking this is true for Christians everywhere and you are right about that. But I'm talking about something entirely different. What has been true of our nations as a whole is also yours as one individual. Never has there been a more critical time than now that the people of God in America and Great Britain band together to resist the growing evil influences in our lands, and to be the righteousness of God for others to see. A personal holy life is the strongest "prophesying" one can do.


Everybody knows about the 'invisible wall' of protection that has been around GB and the USA (oddly, foreigners seem more aware of this than some of us). I work with veterans as an optometrist and some of them like to tell about their wartime experiences. Now there are certain types of individuals who tend to sort of 'stretch' things (you know what I mean) but many of their stories were so amazingly similar, I'm convinced they are true.

The old heroes recount how God often protected them individually (sometimes even whole groups) during certain battles --- these included land, sea and air conflicts. They retell in vivid detail the unexplainable thoughts that would come to mind that things would somehow be all right when the circumstances clearly indicated they were done for. Understand me, I'm not talking about an occasional thing. These seemed to be ordinary occurrences. Now, we might expect this from believers, right? But the point I want to drive home is that these incidences were common among non-Christians as well! This is the sovereignty of God in action, folks.

These stories are only a small example of the invisible wall of protection of the two witnesses. It has been true throughout the histories of these two powerhouses. (More on this later.)


From a Biblical, historical perspective, I shall base my response on the prophetic principle of a 'day' = one year. Let's start with England. In my search regarding this point, I read a book called THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND(2). In it the author says:

"Five years after the Synod of Whitby, Theodore of Tarsus became the new Archbishop. His organizing and administrative abilities were manifested in the precedents and reforms that shaped the organization of the English church. He doubled the number of bishopries, set up regular church councils, and laid the groundwork for the modern parish system. By providing counsel to rulers and offering the one basis for unity among feuding kingdoms, the power of the clergy increased. Under Theodore's successors the church flourished both in missionary enterprise and in the dissemination of culture. It sent missionaries to the Continent and established schools in England whose graduates provided moral leadership and scholarly achievement. The caliber of scholarship is exemplified by the 'father of English history,' the Venerable Bede (671-731) (remember this date), whose writings caught the unity of the English as a people and, also, as part of the greater unity - the Church Universal. By the eighth century English scholarship was at least the equivalent of that in western Europe, and Christianity had again brought Britain into the mainstream of western civilization."

Now this last sentence is of particular importance from my perspective. Even from a secular historian's view, we see Christianity was observed as being the most outstanding attribute which resulted in England's becoming a significant part of the "mainstream of western civilization".

I have become convinced that it was in this exact era (i.e., the 8th century) that England's anointing commenced. Let me tell you why. The above author, Mr. Schultz, mentioned the "Venerable Bede" as being the "father of English history". There is an amazing fact in Bede's life which Christians should note: Mr. Bede is given credit for performing the first English translation of the Bible. History reveals he died (731 A.D.) right at the very moment he penned the last word of the Gospel of John! Isn't that fantastic? God is the ultimate dramatist when the occasion calls for it.

Thus, with Bede began the translating and the eventual supplying of the Word of God to the English people. And later it would be those same peoples who would become God's chief resource for translating and disseminating the Bible into hundreds of other languages. You have all surely heard of the fine organization called "Wycliffe Bible Translators". John Wycliffe (1320 - '84) was a noted Bible translator and a church reformer. He typified in his generation one of the outstanding English persons God used along the way during the past "1260 days".

One could write a book on Christian scholarship just to summarize the vast academic contributions the British have provided to the Church. But that is not the intent of this book. What I'm trying to do is merely relate what I believe is the correct understanding of what Revelation 11 is all about. Once readers get the essence of what I've been saying, I'm convinced some of you may very well provide better substantiating-information to support my 'theory' than I've presented myself. That's the way real truth operates. It builds and grows once a correct principle is established.


Some readers will probably believe I've trapped myself with the claim that the two witnesses are GB and the USA since America wasn't even discovered until 1492. If England's ministry began around 731 A.D., how can this apparent discrepancy be reconciled?

This illogical situation at first troubled me too. But nevertheless, I believed in the identification I had given the two witnesses long before I could reconcile the delimma. I sought the Lord about it. The convictions wouldn't go away. There has always been a pervasive, over-riding peace which caused me to move on. I think it was an inner-knowing. I just believed that some day the incongruity relative to the 1260-year time issue as it applies to America would somehow work out. And it did!

One morning I 'just happened' to tune in the "700 Club" and saw a documentary film story. Ironically, I felt prompted to record the program that morning and still have the video. At that time, CBN was doing several special programs involving the Christian heritage of America. They had heard of a recent, very interesting discovery in a cave located in Boone County, West Virginia. Their T.V. crew went there and filmed the researchers' findings.

Archaeologist Robert Pyle had found and studied carvings in the cave and became convinced that the markings were not Indian as was formerly assumed. They sent for an expert witness on ancient languages. Professor Emeritus Dr. Barry Fell, of Harvard University, came and made careful studies of the "petroglyphs" (the carved markings on the walls of the cave). To everyone's amazement, he identified the markings as a form of ancient Irish (English in its rudiment stage). They were even able to approximate the time the markings were inscribed, being somewhere between the 6th and 8th centuries!

When I first saw that program I literally leaped for joy! Even though I was already convinced and expectant that God would one day provide a satisfactory explanation of the position I held concerning America as one of the "witnesses", I could hardly believe my own eyes that morning. God was confirming my viewpoint right in my own family room! And to find out that these special, ancient English-speaking 'visitors' came about the same time England's Venerable Bede had begun the translating work of the Scriptures into English (which would later broaden into the largest base for Bible dissemmination the world had ever known), well, it was just too good to be true. But nevertheless, there it was.

1. There are two very worthy statistical books I would recommend to those who wish to see the validity of my conviction that 90% of missionary work goes forth from the two witnesses:

OPERATION WORLD by Patrick Johnstone and

LET THE EARTH HEAR by Paul E. Freed.

2. THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND by Harold J. Shultz.