Christ warned that there will be false prophets and false Christs who will show great signs and wonders with the intent to deceive people:
(23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. (24) For there shall arise (25) Behold, I have told you before. (26) Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. (Matthew 24:23-26)
The prevalence of many false christs and false prophets at that time seeking to deceive people into believing them makes it imperative for people who do not want to follow the Antichrist to know how to distinguish between false christs and false prophets who want to lead them astray and the two witnesses.
- Today I attempt to provide some ways people on Earth at that time may be able to distinguish between false prophets and the two witnesses.
They Are Authentic Prophets
The first item distinguishing the two witnesses from the various false prophets of the end times is that the two witnesses are authentic prophets. We can conclude that the two witnesses are authentic prophets since Revelation 11:3 does not say that the two witnesses give false prophecies (in contrast with Revelation 19:20 which uses the term “false prophet” for Antichrist’s right-hand man who deceives people) while Revelation 11:10 directly refers to the two witnesses as “prophets”.
(3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth… (10) And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (Revelation 11:3, 10)
It is not explicitly clear what the two witnesses will prophesy about during their ministry. However, it is safe to assume that what topic(s) the two witnesses will prophesy about shall not contradict the Word of God or God’s Will. Recall that Deuteronomy 18:22 implies that a prophet from God says things that come to pass while a false prophet says things that do not come to pass:
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22)
In contrast, the false prophets of the end times will tell people things which are unbiblical like Christ is in the “desert” or in the “secret chambers”:
(24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (25) Behold, I have told you before. (26) Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. (Matthew 24:24-26)
Consequently, the more biblical knowledge a person possesses at that time in the future the easier it should be for them to distinguish between the two witnesses’ accurate/biblical prophecies and the false prophets’ lies.
The Sackcloth Attire
Revelation 11:3 tells us that the two witnesses will be clothed in sackcloth during the time of their ministry.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)
The two witnesses’ garb could potentially be a significant item that distinguishes them from many false prophets who will seek to deceive people. Sackcloth in biblical times was typically made from coarse animal hair (i.e. goat, camel, etc).
- The following link is a picture of two individuals dressed in sackcloth (they are not the two witnesses but are just an example of what two people wearing sackcloth could like): Link
One reader asked me about the significance of the two witnesses’ sackcloth attire. I’ve read various ideas about the significance of the sackcloth attire over the past few days. Here are a couple of the major ideas I’ve encountered:
Idea 1. The sackcloth could provide some indication of what the two witnesses may talk about during their ministry:
- The Bible suggests that sackcloth is worn at times of mourning (Genesis 37:4, Isaiah 22:12), when one seeks to show humility (Daniel 9:3), or when one is seeking to repent (Jonah 3:6-8).
|Gen 37:34 (Mourning): And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.|
|Isa 22:12: (Mourning): And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:|
|Dan 9:3 (Humility): And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes|
|Jon 3:6-8 (Repenting): (6) For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (7)And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: (8) But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.|
- The theory is that the two witnesses may tell people to humble themselves before God and to repent their evil ways.
Idea 2. Another interesting theory I read is that the sackcloth attire could be a way for the two witnesses to distinguish themselves as prophets. The theory rests on the idea that various prophets/key biblical figures wore sackcloth during the time of their respective ministries. The following verses are cited by some as evidence that sackcloth is part of a prophet’s attire:
“And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.” (2 Kings 1:8)
“And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” (Matt 3:4)
“At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.” (Isa 20:2)
Zechariah 13:4 is also utilized as a verse by some to argue that sackcloth (rough garment) is piece of clothing that a prophet wore to distinguish themselves as a prophet:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive (Zech 13:4)
I am unsure whether the two witnesses will be the only ones during the time of their ministry who will dress in sackcloth, but people during that time should be able to identify those who are not the two witnesses by checking to see whether they are wearing sackcloth.
- It’s unlikely that two people who claim to be the two witnesses during that time period are actually the two witnesses if they are not wearing sackcloth.
They Are Very Unpopular
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (Revelation 11:5)
The notion that people will attempt to injure the two witnesses suggests that the two witnesses will be very unpopular with the wicked.
- It is safe to assume that one major reason why the two witnesses will be very unpopular is that they will torment the wicked on Earth during the time of their ministry (Revelation 11:10).
- Another potential reason for the two witnesses unpopularity is that their messages could oppose the messages of the Antichrist.
Regardless of why people will attempt to injure them, the two witnesses should stand out for being a major nuisance to the wicked.
A Lack of Signs and Wonders?
Finally, another potential differentiator could be the degree that the two witnesses do not rely on signs and wonders to perform their work versus their counterparts. Recall that Christ warned that the false prophets and false Christs will utilize great signs and wonders to deceive people into believing them:
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)
It is unclear whether the two witnesses will utilize signs and wonders to persuade people to listen to them.
- Revelation 11:6 notes that the two witnesses will have the power to turn water into blood, smite the earth with all sorts of plagues, and to stop rain from falling. However, it is unclear whether they have these abilities to persuade people to believe them, to punish the earth for its wickedness, or both.
However, the two witnesses would be able to distinguish themselves from the false prophets of the end times by not utilizing signs and wonders since false prophets and false Christs will utilize signs and wonders to persuade people.
- Again, I am unsure about the extent that the two witnesses may or may not utilize signs and wonders, but this is just another thing to consider as a potential way to distinguish between the two witnesses and false prophets.
There may be more ways to distinguish between the two witnesses and the false prophets of the end times than I have listed today. However, I hope the items I listed today are a good start.