There are several parallels between the ministry of Jesus, and that of the two witnesses.
The two witnesses prophesy for 1,260 days, the time that the woman is nourished in the wilderness in Revelation 12:6, and Jesus also ministered for about three and a half years. In my view the 1,260 days is symbolic of the remaining time of the church in this present age, from the time the last of the New Testament books were written.
The following is part of a commentary on Zechariah chapter 14, from: Talbot W. Chambers. The Prophet Zechariah. In: Johann Peter Lange. ed., A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, Volume 14. Scribner, NY. 1874. pp. 109-113.
Bible scholars have suggested various meanings for the mountains of Israel in Ezekiel 36:1-15. These include (1) the land; (2) the people of Israel; (3) either the land or the people; (4) they are metaphors representing God’s promises. Correctly interpreting the mountains is key to understanding the prophecy. Daniel I. Block wrote on the theological significance of this prophecy:
Scott Hedge, pastor of Willomore Baptist Church at Greensboro, NC, posted a Critique of Preterist View of Olivet Discourse.
Hedge identified Matthew 24:34 as the foundation of the preterist interpretation of the prophecy, but suggested that the preterist view involves a faulty understanding of the word “generation” (genea). He wrote:
When the disciples asked Jesus, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” in Matthew 24, his immediate response was to list a series of events to set the scene, and to indicate both the scope, and the timeframe for events that he subsequently described. Events mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy, in verse 4-14, are listed in clear, unambiguous language, in contrast to events mentioned after verse 14 which are expressed in symbolic, prophetic terms.
In Musings on the ‘Flat Earth and Firmament’, John Wright says, “The more one reads the bible, the more one should notice the primitive cosmological understanding of its authors.” Wright depicts his views on ancient Hebrew cosmology in a colorful graphic, claiming that their conception, which they shared with other peoples of the ancient world, was that the heaven was a solid dome, that supported water above. He quoted the opinion of P. H. Seely, and Jewish writings from the hellenistic era, to support his view. Wright stated:
And so the Hebrews shared the same cosmological ideas as the rest of the Ancient Near East, including Egypt, Babylonia, Canaan, etc. whose writings also reflect the fact.
The firmament as a solid object is confirmed in Job: ‘Can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?’ (Job 37:18), and in Ezekial: ‘Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a firmament, sparkling like crystal, and awesome.’ (Ezekial 1:22). It was regarded as a beautiful feat of engineering (as in fact it is, in a way), and they told God they appreciated it: ‘The heavens are thy handiwork.’ (Psalms 102).
In support for his conclusions Wright cited the book of Enoch, and the Apocalypse of Baruch, where in 3 Apoc. Bar. 3.7, the author speculates on whether the rigid heaven consists of clay, copper or iron.
David wrote, in Psalm 36:6, “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” The great mountains of the earth are regions of snow and ice, that remained inaccessible to men until the nineteenth century when adventurers developed mountaineering skills, and began to discover routes to the tops of the high peaks of the European Alps, and other mountains of the world.
The reason David compared God’s righteousness to high mountains must have to do with their altitude, and their metaphorical connection with high and lofty thoughts, such as the prophet Isaiah referred to when he described God’s thoughts as higher than those of man.
Israel’s promised land, described as a land of milk and honey, and the seventh day sabbath, are both types of the rest that Hebrews 3-4 encourages believers to enter. Entering this rest requires belief.
After the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they endured 40 years wandering in the wilderness. At the end of that period Joshua addressed them, and he spoke of their promised inheritance as rest. “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.” [Joshua 1:13]
In the Genesis account of Jacob’s dream at Bethel, where he set up a stone as a pillar, the idea of a stone representing God’s house is first introduced, and this concept reappears in several other places in the Bible. Scripture references in which Christ or his church and kingdom are represented by a rock, or a stone, are presented in following table.
The author of Hebrews contrasts milk and strong meat. The meaning of milk, and strong meat, as symbols representing elementary and advanced kinds of spiritual knowledge, is evident from the context. The milk of God’s word includes the accounts of the lives of men of faith, and the accounts of the history of Israel, the gospel accounts of the ministry of Jesus, and the Acts of the apostles, all the events in the scriptures related in a straightforward manner.
David, Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophets asked God, “how long?” They looked for a time when God will no longer hide, [Psalm 13:1; 89:46] when the adversary would no longer reproach the saints, [Psalm 74:10], when God would turn away his anger, [Psalm 79:5] when the wicked would not triumph, [Psalm 94:3-4] when the land would no longer mourn, [Jeremiah 12:4] when the time periods of prophecy would be fulfilled, [Daniel 12:6] when God would save his people, [Habakkuk 1:2] and avenge the blood of the martyrs. [Revelation 6:10]
The continuity of Daniel’s time prophecies is illustrated when the prophecies of Daniel 2, 7 and 9 are compared. The image representing successive kingdoms in the prophecy of chapter 2 is continuous. The four periods of seven times mentioned in Leviticus 26 also represent a continuous time of punishment for Israel. In the table below Daniel’s prophecies are compared with the four periods of seven times of Leviticus 26.
How prophetic mountains are perceived
Commentators have long claimed that mountains in prophecy represent nations or kingdoms, and it is true that God’s kingdom is often represented by a mountain. However, scripture supports a more fundamental interpretation of the mountains; they represent God’s blessings, and covenants, and promises.
Natural mountains may appear differently, when viewed from various directions, and prophecy is similar. Promises of blessing, and covenants, may be represented by mountains, which are prominent parts of the promised land. The kingdom of God is a prophecy, and a promise of blessing, and so it can be represented by a mountain.
Scripture refers to light metaphorically, to represent spiritual knowledge and understanding. Darkness represents misinformation, superstition, delusion, or ignorance. Belief in the gospel is light, and unbelief is darkness.
John said, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5] Knowing the truth corresponds to day, and ignorance to darkness or night. Christ “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” [John 1:9] He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16]
Israel was promised blessings in their land, if the people kept the law. [Leviticus 26:3-5] If they abandoned the law, however, the land would no longer yield her strength to them. [Leviticus 26:18-20]
In many prophecies, the land is described as desolate. Isaiah connected the desolation of the land with understanding and believing the words of the prophets. In response to his question, how long will it be before the people of Israel understand with their heart, and convert, and become healed? Isaiah was told, “until the land be utterly desolate.”
The antichrist spirit, and apostasy becoming dominant in the church, are described in Daniel’s prophecies. The reign of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria in the 2nd century BC, was typical of events of a spiritual nature, not a repetition of events of the same kind. Because of his policies, the temple at Jerusalem was made desolate, and dedicated to Zeus, which was typical of the desolation of the true temple, which is the church. Daniel referred to this desolation as the abomination of desolation. In Daniel 7 it is represented by the little horn that emerged among the ten horns of the fourth beast. In chapter 8, a king of fierce countenance who “understands dark sentences” destroys many of the holy people.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. has discussed the dispensational interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy in a series of blog posts. In Dispensationalism’s difficulty with Daniel he points out that dispensational theology is dependent upon its position on the 70 weeks, which introduces uncertainty because Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy is notoriously difficult to interpret.
In his Ezekiel 36 Commentary, Bruce Hurt quoted from the works of numerous authors who support dispensationalism. However the author identified himself as a literalist rather that a dispensationalist. In his comments on verse 1 he wrote:
The land promise to Abraham is connected with the promise that he would be the father of a multitude, who will number as the stars of heaven, and the promise of a seed in whom all nations will be blessed, who Paul identified as Christ. [Galatians 3:8, 16]
There are three components to the promise to Abraham: an innumerable number of descendants, land, and a seed, who is Christ. The three components are inseparable. A vast number of descendants specified in the promises to Abraham would require a large area of land, but the land of Canaan was one of the smallest countries. The three part promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are presented in the following tables.