by T. B. Baines.
4th edition, 1905.
The subject of this book is judgment; the style symbolism.
God is revealed as the Almighty, the Eternal, the Judge of all the earth. Christ appears exercising His judicial functions, first in the house of God, and afterwards among the nations. The Holy Ghost is seen, not as the "one Spirit," but in His perfect diversity of action in connection with the government of God.
Here, as in all Scripture, the person of Christ is the central figure, the glory of Christ the central object. But next to the person and glory of Christ the kingdom and the Church occupy the most prominent place.
The world is, however, throughout regarded as a scene of judgment. Hence it is the judgments, and not the blessings, of the earthly kingdom that are here recorded. So, too, the Church on earth is looked upon, not in its privileges, but in its responsibilities, as the house of God, at which judgment must begin. On the other hand, the heavenly glories of the Church, and the heavenly side of the kingdom, about which the Old Testament is silent are here blessedly unfolded.
The style of the book is largely symbolic, and in this it resembles the prophecies of Daniel. But while in Daniel the symbols are generally explained, in this book their interpretation is usually left to be gathered from other portions of Scripture.
Many other features, both in the subject and the style, require notice; but these will be more conveniently examined as they arise than in any preliminary remarks.
The book naturally divides itself into three parts. At the close of the first chapter John is told to "write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be after these." "The things which thou hast seen" are not so much a separate division as an introduction to "the things which are." But "the things which shall be after these" comprise two distinct classes: those which precede, and those which accompany or follow, the coming and kingdom of Christ. The three divisions of the book are therefore,
First. "The things which are," described in the addresses to the seven churches, and preceded by the introductory vision;
Second. The judgments falling on the earth before the Lord's advent from heaven; and,
Third. The coming and reign of Christ, ending with the judgment of the dead before the great white throne, and leading on to the eternal state in which God is all in all.