Does Billy Graham's Death Mean That We are in the End Times?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2018 1 Mar
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].
With the passing of Billy Graham, I have wondered a lot about the verse in Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Bill Bright started Campus Crusade for Christ, and Billy Graham's evangelistic crusades reached the world with the gospel. Could they be the two witnesses that re-appear in Revelation? Does this mean that we are in the end times now?
I too, have deeply grieved over the loss of these two saints of God. They definitely were instrumental in preaching the simple message of the Gospel throughout the world. World leaders were touched and countless servants of God were sent forth by these godly men. However, there are other great Christian leaders who impacted the world for Christ in a great way. Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon and Dwight L. Moody are men from the past who shaped the faith of future generations. Many, like Luis Palau and Paul Yongghi Cho, powerfully influenced countries that are non English-speaking. Organizations like Wycliffe Bible Translators have brought the message of the gospel to people who have never heard. Paul the apostle was the first Christian missionary to the Gentiles.
So, to answer your question from a biblical perspective, let’s talk about the most likely answer. The key passage to which you refer is in Revelation 11:3-12:
And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.”
The two witnesses appear after the Tribulation is in full swing. In fact, they begin preaching at the end of the Tribulation. The most likely candidates are
- Moses and Elijah
- Enoch and Elijah
- Two unknown believers whom God calls to be His witnesses in the end times.
Moses and Elijah are seen as possibilities for the two witnesses due to the witnesses' power to turn water into blood (Revelation 11:6), which Moses is known for (Exodus chapter 7), and their power to destroy people with fire (Revelation 11:5), which Elijah is known for (2 Kings chapter 1). Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3-4). But Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed to a man once to die, and after that the judgment.” Of course, Moses did die once (Deuteronomy 34:5). But the people Jesus resurrected during His earthly ministry also died and were raised.
One final thought we should ponder is from www.bible.org.
“The two unknown witnesses could follow the pattern of John the Baptist:
- Luke 1:17 clearly states that John the Baptist, as a forerunner of Christ, would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah (cf. Mark 1:2-3 with Matt. 3:3), i.e., he was a virtual Elijah.
- Matthew 17:10-13 teaches us that Elijah had come and that John the Baptist was that Elijah.
- John himself said he was not Elijah, only a voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare men for Messiah (John 1:21-22). John denied that he was a literal Elijah, though he saw his role as a virtual Elijah doing what the Malachi passage said Elijah would do (Mal. 3:1; 4:6).”
We do know that we will not be here at the time of the preaching of the two witnesses if we believe in Jesus' death on the to forgive our sins, receive Him into our hearts, and join the dead in Christ at the Rapture. We will only see these two witnesses from our view in heaven!
If you know Christ, you will never meet them.
I hope this gives you some food for thought!
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Publication date: March 1, 2018