At the same time, God will raise up two witnesses, dressed in sackcloth, who will prophesy for 1,260 days (Rev 11:3). Revelation describes them as "two olive trees" and "two lampstands standing before the God of the earth" (v.4). God will give them a prophetic message through the power of the holy Spirit, endow them with power to work miracles, and protect them from death until their ministry is completed.
Then the Antichrist will show his true colors and his hatred of Israel by murdering them. But after lying dead in the street for three and a half days, the witnesses will miraculously resurrect and ascend into heaven while their enemies watch (vv.5-12). This event will take place halfway through the Tribulation. The Antichrist will stop the sacrificial system and begin his savage persecution of the Jewish people (Mt 24:9-14).
Before His death, Jesus prophesied, "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy8 place (whoever reads, let him understand),... there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (vv.15, 21).
What is the abomination of desolation? It is the pollution of the "holy place". In 167 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the holy place by erecting an altar to Zeus in the Jewish Temple and sacrificing a pig on it. Jesus said Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation will be fulfilled in the middle of the Tribulation in two stages.
First, the Antichrist will seize the Temple halfway through the seven-year period and enthrone himself as God (Mt 24:15; 2Th 2:4). Second, an image of the Antichrist will be erected in the Temple, and people will be commanded to worship him as God; refusal to do so will mean instant death (Rev 13:8, 11-15).
Jesus also said the abomination of desolation will be a sign for Jewish people to flee from the Antichrist's rule in Jerusalem. He instructed the Judeans to flee to the mountains and said those on their housetops and in the fields should not return home. He warned of the hardships pregnant and nursing mothers will face during that time and instructed them to pray their flight will not be on the Sabbath or during the winter (Mt 24:16-23).
During the winter in Israel, rain and flash floods make travel extremely difficult; and on the Sabbath, public transportation is not available, so many will be trapped in Jerusalem. The last three and a half years of the Tribulation will run its full course, but it will be shortened in the sense that it will not extend any longer. For if it lasted longer, not even the elect Jewish believers would survive (v.22).
Once Satan is cast from heaven, he will devote his full attention to annihilating every trace of the woman (Israel) who produced the male child (Jesus Christ; Rev 12:9, 13). But God will place His hand on Israel, providing a way for the nation to survive: "But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (v.14).
Some people interpret this passage to mean a massive airlift will fly Jewish people to safety, similar to the May 1991 Operation Solomon, when El Al Israel Airline flew 14,400 Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel withing 36 hours. However, scripture also uses the term "eagles' wings" to describe ancient Israel's flight from Egypt (Ex 19:4). The phrase simply indicates Israel's flight to safety will be swift and supernatural.
Since scripture doesn't identify the location of "the wilderness" where God will protect and nourish this remnant (Rev 12:14), many believe it will be in Edom, an area that will remain unaffected by the Antichrist's wrathful destruction (Dan 11:41). Edom is a good possibility because Christ will come to Edom on His return to take vengeance on it and deliver a remnant of Jewish believers (Isa 63:1-6).