1. Do the Two Witnesses represent the OT and NT?
In the third verse of Revelation 1, the very first thing John instructs the readers of Revelation is that they are to "keep" (observe) the Revelation. The reason John gives for his command to observe the Revelation is apparent:
...keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand. KJV
As if that were not plain enough, at the end of the Revelation John again instructs the readers or hearers of Revelation to keep (observe) "the sayings of the prophecy of this book." (Rev. 22:7) Why? Because the events described in Revelation are...
...keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. NKJV
...obey what it says. For the time is near when these things will happen. NLT
...take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. NIV
...keep what is written in it, for the time is near. ESV
...heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. NASB
...keep what is written therein; for the time is near. RSV
...keeping the things written in it -- for the time is nigh! YNG
....the things which must shortly be done. (Rev. 22:6)
John evidently expected first century Chrisitans to be able to read, understand, and observe what was written in Revelation. If Revelation was speaking of events occurring in France in the eighteenth century, how could the first century readers in the seven churches, to whom the letter was addressed, possibly be expected to make any sense of Revelation or observe it?
...for the time is at hand. (Rev. 22:10)
While the "two witnesses" may in some aspects signify the Word of God, this could not possibly be a reference to the New Testament--a document that no first century Christian would even be aware of. Nearly half of the New Testament had not even been written by the time John sent out the Revelation, and a large part of what we call the New Testament involved letters from the apostles and others that were not even gathered together and compiled into a single unit until hundreds of years later.
2. Are the Two Witnesses are persecuted for 1260 years?
Adventists convert the 1260 days into years, thus stretching this prophecy out more than a thousand years. Again, how could first century readers be expected to understand events thousands of years in the future, and why would they even care to "read" or "hear" or "keep" the sayings of a book that had no relevance or bearing on their lives?
Again, how could the 1260 days represent years when John said "the time is near when these things will happen"? How could these events be centuries in the future when the angel said these things "must shortly be done" and "the time is at hand"?
Furthermore, there is nothing in this passage indicating a persecution. It merely says the witnesses are in sackcloth, or are mourning (2 Sam. 3:31; Jon. 3:6,8).
3. Was the Bible "dead" for 3-and-a-half years?
Seventh-day Adventists claim the three-and-a-half days are actually years, and point to events during the French Revolution as fulfillment of the prophecy:
"This period may be reckoned from November 10, 1793, when a decree issued in Paris, abolished religion, to June 17, 1797, when, it held, the French government removed restrictions against the practice of religion."7
To begin, the French Revolution was more of an assault upon the Roman Catholic Church than upon the Bible itself. According to Adventists, Catholicism is the "beast", the "harlot" and "Babylon" of Revelation. During the French Revolution, "the [Catholic] church was outlawed, all monasteries destroyed, 30,000 priests were exiled and hundreds more were killed."8 The French even invaded Italy and took Pope Pius VI prisoner. Since Adventists identify the "beast" of Revelation 11 as Satan, and that same "beast" attacked Roman Catholicism (the "beast" of Rev. 13 and 17), then according the SDA teaching, Satan is attacking and attempting to destroy his own kingdom! Does this make sense?
If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? (Luke 11:18)
Harold Snide points out additional problems with the SDA reckoning:
The problem from a historical standpoint is to find three and one half years during which God's Word remained dead as a result of this government action, and after which period of three years and a half, the Bible was unusually exalted. ...we shall find no such period of three and a half years in the events of Revolutionary France. We shall find that the event usually suggested as terminating the period, either did not occur at the time indicated, or else was an affair of minor significance. Furthermore, we shall discover that the intense antagonism to God and His Holy Book did not last nearly so long as three and a half years but ended after a few months. A simple narration of the principal events of the Revolution, involving religion and the church, will make this all very clear.
Adventist professor W.W. Prescott was aware of some of these problems, and on April 26, 1910, he wrote a letter to W.C. White in which he said:
The worship of Reason ... began early in November 1793. It was November 26 when the Council of the Commune outlawed all other religions. Previous acts of the revolutionary government had assured nominal liberty to worship to all; and just nine days after the Council of the Commune outlawed Christianity, the Convention, a superior governmental body, forbade violence contrary to liberty of worship. And on May 9, 1794, the Convention under the influence of Robespierre, decreed the worship of the Supreme Being. The government support of any worship was abolished September 20, 1794, without much discussion. This automatically brought a considerable degree of religious liberty. It is true that the non-juring priests still suffered some persecution, but this was far more from political than from religious animosity.
On February 21, 1795, Biossy d'Anglas made a speech and a motion for complete separation of Church and State. This was passed, allowing any kind of religious worship throughout France, but with some restrictions as to place, advertising, endowments, etc. The refractory clergy were still considered criminal, but this was a political matter, and could hardly be considered the death of God's Two Witnesses. In the provinces there was much delay and opposition by local officials in permitting the liberty granted by the Convention.
A further attempt was made in late 1794 and early 1795 to revive interest in the tenth-day festivals in the hope of competing with Christianity and its weekly Lord's Day; but this effort was a ludicrous and dismal failure.
A new constitution was demanded to replace that of 1793. Its formation was in the hands of comparatively moderate men. Separation of Church and State and freedom of worship were incorporated in this new constitution. It was adopted August 17, 1795. Thus we see that in less than six months the atheistic enactment of November 26, 1793, was abrogated; and in less than two years there was actually greater religious freedom guaranteed on a fundamental legal basis, than existed prior to the outbreak of atheism. The "Two Witnesses" just simply did not stay "dead" three and a half years.
Moreover, we can discover no adequately significant event coming even approximately three and a half years after the atheistic supremacy, to mark the close of the period. Three and a half years from November 1793, would bring us to the spring of 1797. It has been asserted that the Convention then repudiated its atheistic pronouncement. History shows no such action. In the first place, the Directory was in power, not the Convention, in 1797. Furthermore, the atheistic intolerance had spent its force and had been repudiated by decree and by the new constitution of 1795, so this work did not remain to be done in 1797.
Others take an earnest speech by Camille Jordan, June 17, 1797, as the event closing the three and a half days. On the contrary, this speech, instead of raising the "Two Witnesses," came at a time when they had been much alive for over a year; it dealt with minor phases of religious liberty such as the privilege of ringing church bells, and it failed in its object.
Aulard (Vol. 17, p. 12) summarizes the incident thus:
Jordan, in a fulsomely sentimental and pseudo-pathetical speech, depicts all France as desolated by the loss of her church bells. He earns the nickname of Bell-Jordan (Jordan Carillon), and his campaign fails.
"Two or three of us have made a very careful search of all the histories of the French Revolution to be found in the Congressional Library, in an effort to find some authority for this statement concerning this decree suppressing the Bible; but thus far we have been utterly unable to find any reference to any such action."
Thus we can see that the actual events of the French Revolution do not support the SDA teaching.
4. Does France fit the symbols of "Sodom" and "Egypt"?
Revelation Seminars claims France "was grossly immoral (Sodom) and atheistic and God-hating (Egypt)." However, they provide no evidence the French were any more immoral than any other nation in Europe. Seventh-day Adventists claim that Egypt represents atheism because of Pharoah's statement:
Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice...? I know not the Lord. (Ex. 5:2)
To claim Egypt is atheistic based upon this single verse is utterly contrary to Scripture. The Egyptians were very religious, especially during the time of the Exodus, when God said He would execute judgment against the "gods of Egypt" (Ex. 12:12). Why would an atheistic country have gods?
Later, Jeremiah prophesied of Egypt:
"And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt...the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire." (Jer. 43:12-13)
Jeremiah decried the "gods in the land of Egypt" (44:8) and "Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods" (46:25).
Even the SDA Prophetess Ellen White repeatedly mentioned the religious nature of the Egyptians in her book Patriarchs and Prophets:
In the appendix of the same book, the publishers provide even more evidence of the highly religious nature of the Egyptians:
- Egyptians in Joseph's era involved in "worship of false gods" (p. 214)
- Pharoahs participated in the "worship of the gods" (p. 245)
- Children of Israel were "bowing down to their [Egyptians'] false gods" (p. 259)
- The Egyptians "worshiped deities termed by the Israelites false gods" (p. 259-260)
- The 10 Plagues would "silence their [Egyptians'] boasting of the blessings received from their senseless deities" (p. 263)
- Moses...entered the lordly halls of the king of Egypt. There, surrounded by...rich paintings and sculptured images of heathen gods" (p. 263)
- "The sun and moon were objects of worship to the Egyptians" (p. 272)
- When chasing the Israelites, Pharaoh took his priets with him "to secure the favor of the gods, and thus ensure the success of their undertaking" (p. 283)
- By freeing the Israelites, God had "shown Himself to be above all the gods of Egypt" (p. 305)
- The golden calf was an "imitation of the gods of Egypt" (p. 317)
- "God delivered Israel with...judgments upon all the gods of Egypt" (p. 334)
FROGS WERE HELD SACRED BY THE EGYPTIANS, AND ONE OF THEIR DEITIES, HEQA, WAS A FROG-HEADED GODDESS THOUGHT TO POSSESS CREATIVE POWER. ...ONE OF THEIR GODS (EXODUS 9:3), OF WHICH MANY REPRESENTED POWERFUL GODS IN THE EGYPTIANS PANTHEON. TO MENTION ONLY A FEW, WE FIND THAT THE APIS BULL WAS DEDICATED TO PTAH, THE FATHER OF ALL THE GODS, THE COW WAS SACRED TO HATHOR, ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY WORSHIPED OF ALL FEMALE DEITIES OF THE NILE COUNTRY, WHILE THE RAM REPRESENTED SEVERAL GODS LIKE KHNEMU, AND THE RAM-HEADED AMEN, WHO WAS EGYPT'S CHIEF GOD IN THE NEW EMPIRE PERIOD.
To claim that Egypt was an apt representation of atheism is thoroughly refuted by the Bible, Ellen White's writings, and SDA publications which show the Egyptians were a highly religious people. There is no method or formula that can be used to equate Egypt with atheism in the slightest. To say that Egypt represents atheism is pure fiction.
...ONE OF THE GREATEST GODS OF EGYPT, THE SUN OF GOD RA, WHO HAD BEEN CONTINUOUSLY WORSHIPED FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES OF THAT COUNTRY'S KNOWN HISTORY. ... EVERY EGYPTIAN KING CONSIDERED HIMSELF AS A "SON OF RA," AND CARRIED THIS EXPRESSION IN HIS TITULARY. WHEN AMEN OF THEBES BECAME CHIEF GOD OF EGYPT DURING THE EIGHTEENTH DYNASTY, THE POWER OF THE SUN-GOD RA WAS RECOGNIZED AS SO GREAT THAT A COMPROMISE WAS MADE BY COMBINING AMEN AND RA TO MAKE ONE GOD --AMEN-RA. A FEW YEARS AFTER THE EXODUS, WHEN IKHNATON INTRODUCED A SHORT-LIVED MONOTHEISM, THE ONLY GOD RETAINED WAS ATON, THE SUN DISK.
5. Does the resurrection of the witnesses refer to events in the 1800s?
Adventists claimed the Bible died in France in 1792, then came back to life during events taking place in the 1800s with the founding of Bible societies. The problem is, the first Bible society was founded 12 years after 1792, not three-and-a-half years. Furthermore, there is no connection between the events. The formation of the Bible society was a natural progression of events that began during the Protestant Reformation, which started nearly three centuries before the French Revolution.
The printing press was originally developed for the purpose of printing the Bible. The first printed Bible was the printing of the Catholic Vulgate Bible by Gutenberg in 1455. During the Reformation, Tyndale published the New Testament in English in 1526. The first French Bible was published in 1530, and Martin Luther published a German Bible in 1534. From the 1500s through the current day the publication and distribution of the Bible has continued to progress unabated throughout the world. Throughout the past 500 years various nations (France, Soviet Union, China) have temporarily burned or confiscated or otherwise restricted access to Bibles, but the Bible has never been "killed" or "dead" in any sense whatsoever.
6. Is the city of Rev. 11:13 the Catholic Church?
Revelation Seminars claims the "city" in Revelation 11:13 is the Papacy, and yet they also say the "city" of Revelation 11:8 is France. How can the city represent two different powers in the same passage? There is no indication in the passage that John saw two different cities. Every indication is Revelation 11 is that the same city that killed the witnesses is the city that receives the judgment of the earthquake. To interpret it otherwise is completely contradictory.
John makes it clear that the "great city" was "where also our Lord was crucified." (Rev. 11:8) Any first century reader would immediately recognize that the Lord was crucified in Jerusalem. Therefore, this could not possibly be a reference to Paris, or to France, or to Rome, because Jesus was not crucified in any of those places. Some have claimed that Jesus is "crucified" afresh through the martyrdom of His followers, and that this passage could thus refer to any city where the followers of Christ were persecuted. If this is true, then the prophecy could refer to Rome, Paris, or to nearly any other city in the world, because Christians have been persecuted almost everywhere. However, we cannot select another location for the city of Christ's crucifixion unless Jerusalem fails to fit the specifications of this prophecy. Since the Lord was indeed crucified in Jerusalem, the very first attempt to identify the location of this city should be to look at Jerusalem. Under examination, Jerusalem fulfills many other aspects of this prophecy (as will be shown in the next section).