Notes on the Apocalypse gleaned at lectures in Geneva, 1842.

J. N. Darby.

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Revelation 9, 10, 11:18

These present chapters carry us down to the close of the book of Revelation in the general scope of the prophecy. Chapter 11:18 closes the general history. It is the conclusion of the history of the government and of the judgment of God on the earth. There is something progressive in the action of the providential government of God over men. We see, first, things of ordinary occurrence, such as famines, pestilences. After this there are judgments more striking, powers falling; then, in the first four trumpets, men judged in their circumstances. In the last three trumpets the judgments fall on men themselves. After chapter 12 we have the history of the apostasy.

Revelation 9. Fifth trumpet. The star falling on the earth is a heavenly power fallen. The key of the bottomless pit was given unto him. God permits Satan to act sometimes for the good of His children, sometimes to let His judgments fall on His enemies. Satan and his angels are rejoiced to lay hold of an opportunity to do evil. God is coming here to chastise the wickedness of men. There are already on earth elect ones of the twelve tribes in Israel who have the seal of God marked on their foreheads. They were sealed of God before they knew it themselves. The progress of their knowledge is not our subject here; but Daniel 11, 12, and the Psalms may be consulted.

29 Verse 2. Here is a diabolical influence which obscures the government of the earth. The smoke darkens the air and the sun (that is, the ordinary state of the earth, with regard to its government and the general influences which act on men).

Verse 4. This diabolical power not only obscures that which gives light to men, but it torments them and exercises a deadly influence over them. Wholesome influences are poisoned by it, and this power which rises from the bottomless pit penetrates everywhere.

Verse 3. God's purpose is not yet to kill men. Satan, whatever his power and his malice, cannot do anything but what is in the purpose of God. It is a moral diabolical power over men who have not the mark of God on their forehead. This power has no influence on the grass, on the verdure (on circumstances), but only on those who are not recognised of God.* Satan has power to torment the enemies of God with judgments, which affect them first in their circumstances, and then in their own persons, and torment them because the first judgments had not produced their due effect.

{*It appears to me that this is more immediately connected with, and confined to, the Jews (but they are identified with the Gentiles who are in the land. The same is seen in Isaiah 66) - to speak more exactly, to Palestine.}

Verses 5, 6. The anguish is such that men desire to die. Verse 7. It is a people raised up to act in judgment over others. It is the form Satan's power takes. Crowns like gold have an appearance of royal justice, pretending perhaps to be divine. Verse 8. Their power of destruction is seen. Verse 9. Their power to hurt is in their tail. The tail is the image of the false prophets. Compare Isaiah 9:14. Verse 11. They have a king who rules the satanical darkness, which can act upon the earth. He is the destroyer, Apollyon. Thus God acts in a much more direct way on men, not now merely on their circumstances only. This is the first woe.

Sixth trumpet (v. 13-21). The angel sounds on the summons of Christ. The Lord is still hidden; but He is already occupied with the earth, where He has a people for whom He is interceding. (Compare Isaiah 30:18.) A voice is heard from the four horns of the golden altar, or the altar of incense (Exodus 40:26, 27), from the altar of intercession. The voice gives an order to the angel who sounded the sixth trumpet. The intercession does not apply to the moral condition or to the spiritual conflicts of those who profit by them, but to the manifestation of the judgments of God, which will in time operate the deliverance of an earthly people.

30 Verse 15. Men are not only tormented now, but their life is attacked. Verse 17. Fire and sulphur are the power of judgment, of death and hell, in the hands of Satan, over men. Verse 19. There is further here the power of the prophet of lies; at the same time, as a special satanical power, that of the ancient serpent. Verses 20, 21. All these previous judgments do not alter men, who are poisoned by the tails of the horses (which, like unto serpents, have power with their heads to hurt men). They have been given up to Satan, and strong delusion has been sent unto them that they should believe a lie; 2 Thess. 2:11. The same had happened to the Pagans, who were given up to a spirit of darkness and of unbelief (Rom. 1:28), and to the Jews also, whose heart was made fat. God did send them the word of truth, but they preferred a lie, and God gave them up to their own desire - a lie, and a lie that works efficaciously. It is an awful judgment. Those who will not receive the word of truth may prosper in their outward circumstances; but this prosperity precedes their ruin. This is what the world has to expect.

<05009F> 30 Revelation 10. This chapter forms a parenthesis, an episode. There is a system of great moment, which is to develop itself, the apostasy. It is what we have most minutely described in the Apocalypse. Before closing what is connected with the government of God on earth, it is necessary to introduce the subject of this apostasy. This is done here. The scene passes in Judea. The nations have gathered round Jerusalem like unto sheaves ready for the judgments of God to pass on them Till this time the immediate intervention of God had not taken place on the earth.

The first book had seals. Here, it is a book open, where every one may read, which, while applying to the earth, is also applicable to an open and public testimony to His name and the walk or profession which accompanies it, not to the hidden things of God in providence. Verse 1. The rainbow designates God's alliance with creation, and His faithfulness towards creation; the sun, supreme power; the pillars of fire, firmness of judgment. Verse 2. This revelation is given by Christ Himself, as having dominion over the earth, and as going to take possession of it in judgment. There is no more mystery, for the book is open. We do not see here Christ as the Lion of Juda, but the rights which belong to Christ. He sets one foot on the earth, the other on the sea; that is to say, on the prophetic earth and on things standing outside, particularly the world. Verse 3. The seven thunders. All God's rights over the earth, and His voice, which makes those rights be heard. The manner in which this takes place is not revealed.

31 Verses 5-10. Judgment is still suspended until the seventh trumpet should have sounded. There would, however, no longer be delay, but the mystery of God would be accomplished, as He had announced to the prophets. There will be a special object of the last judgment, the beast which comes up from the bottomless pit. The object of that judgment must appear, before the judgment can take place. The revelation of God that was given to John was very sweet to him. But when he meditates on the contents of the prophecy for his people, his soul is filled with bitterness.

Verse 11. The nations and the kings must appear again at the end to be the object of the last judgment. God has never lost sight of them. Those nations, those tongues, which are the result of the confusion of Babel (that is to say, all the nations spoken of in Genesis 10 and 11) reappear either in Daniel, or Ezekiel, or elsewhere, as in Psalm 83, in order to be the objects of judgment.

<05010F> 31 Revelation 11:1-18. There are worshippers and prophets, that is to say, a testimony. The Gentiles do their own will, and tread the holy city under their feet. God has a remnant which is sealed, and He communicates with them. Verses 1, 3. We see here the altar of holocausts; the temple and the worshippers found therein are distinguished. The rest is trodden under foot.

Verse 2. Forty-two months. There is one week remaining out of the weeks of Daniel: seven weeks and sixty-two weeks to the time of the Messiah. The events of the last week are irrespective of what concerns the church. It is of this last week, as it is of the sixty-nine others; they were "determined" on the people of Israel and on the holy city; Dan. 9:24. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city." Sixty-nine weeks were elapsed up to the Messiah, but He was cut off; Dan. 9:26. The church is a heavenly system, not providential, which has nothing in common with earthly things, or with the temple at Jerusalem.* The remaining week remains still to be fulfilled. We have here the history of this last week.** At that time, God will resume with the Jews His laws, His judgments, and His terrestrial government.

{*This gives the Psalms a character worthy of remark. Deliverance is effected through the execution of judgments, which are therefore demanded. The church, on the contrary, will come out of all by ascending up into heaven. The Psalms are evidently connected with the Jewish remnant alone in the latter days, and with the consequences proceeding from it, as to the world; also with the work and the sympathies of Christ, which form the basis of it.}

{**The writer wrote later as follows: -

As to Daniel, Christ was cut off and took nothing (see margin - the real sense - did not take the kingdom then), after sixty and two weeks, that is sixty-nine. Now we learn from the gospels His ministry was as nearly as possible three years and a half, so that for intelligent faith there is only half a week left, and, in fact, only that of the great tribulation. For unbelief - the beast and the apostate Jews - there is a week; and they enter into covenant for this time, but he breaks it when half through, takes away the sacrifice, and the great tribulation begins - that which is spoken of in Matthew 24, after verse 15, and in Mark 13 - and this only in the Revelation. - Letter, February, 1881.

See also in Prophetic Volume 4, "Are there two half-weeks in the Apocalypse?"}

32 We now have something precise in statement - Jerusalem; a people at Jerusalem; the city trodden under foot by the Gentiles. These are Israel's relations with God. Israel would not submit to Christ; they will submit to Antichrist. There is a small remnant who will not recognise Antichrist; but the mass of the people will recognise him. God is watching over this remnant whom He has sealed. I do not mean to say, however, that the sealed remnant is confined to these, for there are others of the twelve tribes that are sealed also. There is a testimony of God against men by prophets.

Verse 3. The two witnesses are prophets in affliction. Verse 4. God is Lord over the earth. He will not permit the times of the Gentiles to last any longer, nor that they should tread under their feet what they cannot devour. This is finished. God is going to shew Himself as Lord over the earth He had given the earth to the Gentiles; Dan. 2:37. His throne had judged and left Jerusalem; Ezek. chaps. 1 to 11 - particularly chap. 10:18 and chap. 11:22. And He gives the dominion over the earth to Nebuchadnezzar, to the Gentiles; Dan. 2 37, 38. And until the times of the Gentiles are expired, Jerusalem shall be trodden under their feet; Luke 21:24. But God will resume again His place as Lord over the earth. The two witnesses render testimony to this lordship, to the Lord over the earth, not to the Father, or to the heavenly glory, to the Lord of heaven.

33 In Zechariah 4 we see a candlestick. All is in order, and everything in its place. Christ's royalty and priesthood sustain and nourish the Jewish people, and all is in its place. But here all is in confusion. There are two candlesticks, two olive trees, but one does not know where to put them. Nothing is as yet settled; but there is a testimony rendered to these things, to their future fulfilment.

Verses 5-8. Such is the fate of the two witnesses, because the beast, the wicked one, assumes his empire, according to Satan's power. The witnesses give testimony to God's right over the earth. There is an allusion to the character of Moses and Elias. Egypt was visited with plagues under Moses; God's people were then in captivity under the dominion of the Gentiles. Moses displayed God's power against Pharaoh, in a way preparatory to the judgment that was to come on him. Elias shut heaven, and made fire come down thence. Elias came at the time of the apostasy of Israel. The last condition of Israel is worse than the first. The spirit of idolatry, the demon of Israel, shall take with him seven other spirits worse than himself, and shall enter again into Israel. The service of the two witnesses is that of Moses against Pharaoh, and that of Elias in the midst of an apostate people. But the beast comes up out of the bottomless pit and kills the two witnesses. This is all that takes place before the sounding of the last trumpet. The particulars about Antichrist are revealed in the subsequent part of the Apocalypse.

It is a serious thing to see the end of the age, and the judgment coming, not on the dead, but on the nations; to see how men are despising all the judgments of God, and how everything concentrates itself in two witnesses, and a little remnant at Jerusalem. It is written that the publicans believed, having received the baptism of John. But the Pharisees reject this baptism and do not believe in Jesus, and they harden their hearts against the Holy Ghost; while the publicans, having received the first testimony, receive also Jesus and then the Holy Ghost. It is important to apprehend the least warning, to listen to the smallest whisper of God's voice, and to obey quickly His warning. There are always warnings that we have neglected previous to chastisements.

34 Verse 14. Two woes are passed, and the third woe, which ends with the judgment of Antichrist, comes quickly. Verses 15-18. Seventh trumpet. The particulars of this woe are not given here; they are given a little farther on; but the seventh seal is the signal for the intervention of God. (See chap. 10:7.) When the sound of this trumpet is heard, the intervention is celebrated in heaven with all its consequences. It is the result that is celebrated. The course of what is judged is reserved for what follows. This intervention* begins with the judgment of Antichrist and that of the nations which are angry; but if it is with regard to them the moment when they are moved to anger, it is with regard to God's servants and His saints and His prophets the time when God is pleased, in His faithfulness and His love, to give them their reward. Great voices are heard in heaven praising God and rejoicing, because the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The four and twenty elders give thanks and worship God, because the Lord God Almighty has taken His great power and has entered upon His reign. There is great joy in heaven, because the reign of iniquity and of the prince of this world has come to an end; because creation, which from the time of Adam was made subject to vanity and to the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-22), is come into blessing again, and, by the presence of the Last Adam, by the exercise of His blessed royalty and the manifestation of the children of God, and particularly because Jesus reigns - Jesus, hated by the world, Jesus despised and rejected of men, but Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father, the glorious Bridegroom of the glorified church!

{*Some believe that the judgment itself of Antichrist is the third woe. I was made to say so in the first edition of these notes, but I doubt it. I cannot believe that the description given at the beginning of the chapter is that of the last days of the man of sin. The worship of the faithful and the temple of God are preserved intact, and the strong testimony rendered by the two witnesses secured against all attack, those who hurt them being killed. Now, if this be so, this would be the first half week, the other half remains yet to be fulfilled. (Compare Matthew 24:15.) I find it also difficult to believe that it is just at the time of the two witnesses being killed that all terminates. Now, it is at the end of the twelve hundred and sixty days. In chapter 12 we have twelve hundred and sixty days, of which it is said, "woe," etc., which resemble much more Matthew 24. Neither does it seem to me right to call the judgment of God a woe. We must remember also that the dominion of the beast lasts twelve hundred and sixty days, and that the two witnesses live during the like period. Are they synchronical? I do not think so.}

35 Revelation 11:19; and 12

What precedes verse 19 of chapter 11 brings the general history of the ways of God to a termination. And before entering upon the judgments peculiar to the apostasy, the Apocalypse reveals to us more in detail what is to take place on earth. Verse 18 had brought us to the end - to the seventh trumpet. Verse 19 resumes the history from a higher point. We have in what follows, first, the causes of evil, and what proceeds from those causes; secondly, the development of Satan's power and of the moving springs of evil in the instruments he uses, and which manifests itself under a very decided form; and thirdly, what God does in order to destroy the evil.

Revelation 11:19. The temple of God is seen open in heaven, and the ark of the covenant is seen in the temple. Before the evil is manifested, we have the joy that nothing can touch the ark, and that everything concerning the people of God is firmly settled and secured in heaven. In treating with His people God is binding Himself. This is the ark of His covenant The power of God and His holiness must be manifested towards His people, and displayed in their favour. This is precious, for man's heart will fail him at the sight of evil. But before God lets the evil be seen, He manifests to the eye of faith His temple and the ark of His covenant, where everything is stable, where nothing can be touched. The thunders can fall on the earth, but they cannot fall on God's temple. It is no more the throne; it is the place for worship, the place where God is adored. The lightnings, the voices, the thunders, and the hail, are the action of God on the atmosphere of the earth, on what envelopes it. The terrors of God are acting on the world. The Apocalypse after this shews us the sources of evil, and the judgment of God on them.

36 Revelation 12, 13, 14 form a whole.
Chapter 12 presents to us, in their great characters, the sources and the results; chapter 13 the development of evil on the earth, through Satan's instruments; chapter 14 God's relation with His 3 people and with the world for good, and His judgment on Satan's instruments which chapter 13 had made known to us.

<05011F> 36 Revelation 12 is divided into three parts; the first, beginning with verse I down to verse 6; the second, from verse 7 down to verse 12; the third, from verse 13 down to verse 17. First part. Verses 1-6 place before us the actors in this scene, viz., a woman with child of Him who is the object of all the counsels of God, and the vessel of His power on earth, while herself weak (she is, according to His counsels, clothed with supreme glory); a child mighty, but who does not yet act in His might, but is hidden and withdrawn into heaven, while the woman flees into the wilderness; a great red dragon, Satan, who would devour the child, and who hates the woman and persecutes her. The woman is clothed with the sun, with the glory of God, with all supreme authority. The moon is under her feet; all subordinate and derivative authority is under her feet. She has upon her head a crown of twelve stars - power in man displayed to perfection.*

{*It will be found that the number seven is figurative of spiritual perfection, either in good or evil; and twelve, of perfection in man, such as the twelve patriarchs, the twelve apostles.}

The second sign in heaven is a child, the heir of strength. The woman is not the church. There is a great red dragon who is against the woman; it is Satan who resists the manifestation of the glory of the child and of the woman. His power is perfect in its kind; he has seven heads, with crowns, and ten horns. The tail is designative of the bad influence of error in doctrine. The dragon draws after him the third part of the stars of heaven, the authorities. Satan would devour the child. The child is Christ; it is also the church, as associated with Christ. Like Christ she is to govern the nations; Psalm 2 and Rev. 2:26, 27. The church receives this power from her being associated with Christ; she will, notwithstanding, be also active in heaven. When the Lord Jesus comes again, it will be in the display of His authority, for He shall rule all nations with a rod of iron, and the church will be with Him; Psalm 2:6-9; Rev. 2:27. It is what Christ will do when He has taken possession of the inheritance of the nations. Now, He looks for the church; John 17:9. Later, He will look for the world; Psalm 2:7. He makes the church to be partaker with Him in the possession of the world; Rev. 2:27. The male child then is Christ, the Head of the church which is His body. The Man complete is Christ and the church. Christ imparts to the church all He has; but the power of Christ is not yet displayed. Christ and the church are hidden in God. The woman, on the contrary, who was clothed with the sun, remains on the earth, and is in the desert. As soon as we are obliged to seek the woman on earth, it can be none else but the Jews. The church is only in heavenly places, it she is not known on earth. Jerusalem is the centre where God recognises His people. It is the people of God, in relation with God, which becomes the woman on earth when the male child is in heaven. If we seek for the instruments on earth, we shall find that Christ was born of the Jews. In Zion it shall be said "This man was born there," Psalm 87. We have the thought of God in the woman and the glory. We have, besides, the result of this thought, which is Christ. It is to the woman that Satan bears an ill-will; he hates her; but he cannot touch the child who is in heaven.

37 Second part, verses 7-12. We are told here the circumstances which force the woman to flee. Satan and his angels are in heaven; Eph. 6:12. Satan has access to the heavens which God created, where His throne is placed. It is there he was the accuser of Job; but Satan has no entrance into the light, which cannot be approached. Jesus says, speaking of the miracles of His disciples, "I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven." From a feeble sample of the power of His name He sees all the power of Satan cast out from heaven. A war takes place now in heaven. Michael and his angels fight against the dragon and his angels. Michael is called the archangel in Jude 9. The word of God speaks of only one archangel. The immediate result of this war is that Satan is cast out from heaven into the earth. He has no more power in heaven. It is a great mistake to believe that Satan is in the lake of fire. He is with the angels in heavenly places. Men will be found in the lake of fire burning with brimstone before Satan is there; chap. 19:20. He shall be cast out of heaven into the earth, where he will still act and deceive the nations. He is already worshipped amongst the pagans. As soon as the event here anticipatively announced by prophecy takes place, the heavens are for ever cleansed from the defilement and presence of Satan. He was overcome by those on earth, as accuser, by the blood of the Lamb. Satan's accusations only draw out the manifestation of God's favour towards His children. Cast out from heaven, Satan shall come again on the earth to gather the nations from the four quarters of the earth to battle, and to make war against heaven.

38 Third part, verses 13-17. Instead of seeing, as in verse 1, the woman in heaven, having the sun for a crown (that is to say, agreeably to the thought and the counsels of God, a vessel without strength, but clothed with supreme authority), we find her in the earth. Christ issued from the woman, the Jews. The church is in nowise the mother of Christ; she is His bride. When Satan is cast out from heaven, he begins to make war with the seed of the woman, the Jews, the only testimony of God remaining then on earth.

Two wings of a great eagle are given to the woman. The strong man of God,* Christ, does not yet exercise His power. The woman has nothing else to do but to flee for three years and a half, during which time Satan exercises his power on earth with great fury. The only resource of the woman is to flee. Jesus foretold this in Matthew 24:16. As soon as the abomination that makes desolate shall stand in the holy place (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 11), three years and a half will elapse until the deliverance. At the beginning of these three years and a half the disciples are to flee to the mountains; Matt. 24:16. The woman fled to the desert. It is the last end of the indignation (Dan. 8:19) and of the vengeance; Isaiah 34:8; ch. 60:2; Jer. 50:15, 28; ch. 51:6, 22, etc.**

{*Psalm 80:17.}

{**See footnote on page 32.}

One cannot apply to the Roman eagles what is said of the abomination of desolation. Nothing, from the time Jerusalem was taken by Titus, coincides with the twelve hundred and ninety days in Daniel 12:11, even calculating, as some would do, twelve hundred and ninety years instead of twelve hundred and ninety days.

The serpent does all he can to kill the woman, even when she flees. There remaineth (v. 17) a remnant of the seed of the woman, with whom Satan shall make war. Those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,* are those who have the Spirit of prophecy, who are attached to Jesus (that is to say, to the testimony of the Spirit of prophecy, which is God's testimony to God's promise, and not to Antichrist). The flood which the dragon casts out of his mouth is a mass of people; Isaiah 8:7, 8. When the king of Assyria and all his glory come to lay waste through Judea, they are presented under the image of a flood and of waters strong and many. The earth swallows the flood which the dragon casts out after the woman. God, in His providence, prevents these nations from devouring and destroying Israel.

{*It appears to me certain, that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the testimony that He has rendered Himself, not the testimony that is rendered unto Him.}

39 We have here the end of the last week in Daniel. What remains of the week is connected with the things of the earth. It still remains to be fulfilled. After the way which we find mentioned here, Satan will never regain heaven. After having been cast into the bottomless pit and bound there for a thousand years, he shall regain the earth and seduce the nations (chap. 20:8), but he will never regain heaven.

The inhabiters of the earth are never the church. They are those who are attached to the system of this world in the prophetic earth of the latter days, and who abide there. The inhabiters of the sea are the nations outside the prophetic earth. Those who thus inhabit the earth, without being righteous, have against them Satan in all his fury.*

{*The order here is to be remarked, viz., the rapture of the male child - the war in heaven - the persecution (through Satan who is cast out of it) of the woman in the earth.}

<05012F> 39 Revelation 13

In chapter 12 we were taught, in the great sign that appears in heaven, what the sources of evil are. In chapter 13 we see the wicked instruments Satan makes use of for the fulfilment of all that iniquity and evil of which he is himself the source. The dragon imitates God, who has given all authority to His Son, and the Holy Ghost acting in His power in the presence of the Son. Thus Satan gives his power to a beast, and another beast exercises that power in his presence. One of the beasts comes from the sea, the other from the earth. We have in these instruments the full display of evil working in the earth. The first beast has also his deadly wound healed, as Christ rose from the deadly wound of death.

First beast, verses 1-10. The sea represents a mass of people without form. When there is order, when population takes a definite shape, this is the earth. The sea represents the mass of people previous to its taking a definite form; chap. 17:15. Babylon is sitting on the seas, that is, on the people, the nations, and tongues. The lion, the leopard, the bear, in Daniel 7, are the symbols of three of the four monarchies. When God's throne was no more at Jerusalem, God gave all power into the hands of the Gentiles. We see, to the end, four empires represented by four beasts. No mention is made here of the first three beasts, because they had already ceased at the time of the apostle.* In the meantime, Jesus is hidden in God, and sitting at His right hand, according to Psalm 110; Acts 2:30; Isaiah 9:5, 6, etc.

{*Only they are recognised in the form of the beast in verse 4. Prophecy could only belong to the fourth beast now, the Roman empire. It is the most important beast, the one which had to do with the Lord Jesus. The Roman empire has been proved by God through the presence of the Lord Jesus. Jesus was presented to the fourth beast, and condemned by Pilate, as King of the Jews. He was born King of the Jews, and the throne of God on earth belongs to Him. He was rejected of men: nevertheless, the throne belongs to Him, and shall be restored unto Him.}

40 The Roman empire has become guilty of having rejected Him who alone had the right of dominion over the whole earth. This it is which gives a character to this beast. Nor is it all. This beast makes war with the saints that are on earth, at all times and under all circumstances, and persecutes in them the Lord Jesus. The Roman empire bears the character of the first three beasts, and combines their qualities in its body. The fourth beast shall be destroyed (Dan. 7:26), and the lordship shall be given to the Son of man by the Ancient of days; Dan. 7:11-14. This beast receives power from the dragon (chap. 13:2) and becomes Satan's immediate instrument.

As the Father has given all power to the Son, who acts in this power through the Holy Ghost, likewise the dragon gives his power to the beast, who exercises this power through another beast.

The first beast has seven heads and ten horns. Each horn represents a kingdom. Each kingdom is crowned. All these kingdoms agree in giving their power to the beast, in whom is an active principle of blasphemy. The Roman empire is to be divided into ten kingdoms, which give their power to the beast. This has not yet taken place. The Roman empire has fallen once, and has been divided, it is true, but this does not fulfil the prophecy. There has never been the union of the beast with the ten horns. When the barbarous nations of the fourth century were brought upon the scene, they destroyed the unity of the Roman empire. The co-existence of this unity with the ten horns has never taken place. Instead of giving their power to the beast, we must consider the barbarous nations, which are looked at as the ten horns which give their power to the beast, as its destroyer. This proves to us that it would be useless to look in the time past for the fulfilment of those things which the Apocalypse reveals to us here, and as to which Daniel 7 and Revelation 17:12-14 instruct us also. The fulfilment of these things is yet to come. They are prophetical things, not historical. We may omit the consideration of five heads as already fallen at the time of the apostle. There is one head contemporary with the apostle, and another to come. One of the heads is marked by a deadly wound, but it is to be healed, or, as it were, rise again. It is in everything an imitation of what God does, and of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. All the kingdoms from the west shall unite to give their power to the Roman empire. All the earth, in admiration at the restoration of the Roman empire, shall follow after the beast. This has never happened yet. We have in Napoleon an image of this. It is like a prelude to the fulfilment of prophecy. There will be such an admiration, equal to adoration and worship, at the resurrection of this empire.

41 Besides what thus externally characterises it, there is (v. 5) a moral aspect, a mouth uttering blasphemies; Dan. 7:8. This dreadful time of the blasphemies of the beast shall last forty-two months. It displays its anger towards those who dwell in heaven. It is already thus in principle. If a Christian will walk as an inhabitant of heaven, the world cannot bear him. That will be still more dreadful then. A distinction must be made here between those who inhabit the earth, that is, the prophetic earth (whose hopes are upon the earth, and who are not dwelling there as pilgrims and strangers), and the nations, tribes, and tongues, by whom must be understood men in general. Those who inhabit the earth shall worship the beast, which is not said of the tongues, tribes, and nations.

The fate of those who inhabit the earth will be to worship the beast. The tongues, the kindreds, the people, and the nations, shall be under its authority; but they do not follow nor worship it; 2 Thess. 2:9-12. There is the coming of Antichrist, as there is also the coming of Christ. Strong delusion shall be sent to those who have not received the love of the truth, but who take pleasure in unrighteousness, that they should believe a lie. They are those who inhabit the earth, the professing church, and not the heathen, to whom the truth never was set forth. The terms "power, wonders, miracles," are the same which Peter uses (Acts 2:22), to shew forth unto the Jews the power of Jesus. The same things will be displayed by Satan in evil, in order to accredit evil. It is an awful thing to see the world, rejecting the truth, have strong delusion sent unto them, so that they should believe a lie, and worship the beast to whom the dragon has given his power, because they refused to worship Christ to whom God had given His power.

42 What we read in verse 10 is a principle for Christians The character of the patience and of the faith of the saints is not to resist at all. This is true at all times. If any one will use the arms of the flesh, he shall be made subject to them. Whosoever draws the sword shall perish by the sword.

Second beast, verses 11-13. It rises out of the prophetic earth, out of the nations who have a form. It bears the appearance of the power of Christ; its form is, as to its horns, like unto a lamb, but what it says is the voice of Satan. It has put on the form of the lamb, as to power, and yet its doctrine is that of the dragon. The second beast exercises all the power of the first in its presence. It performs wonders, like Elias, who made fire come down from heaven. It acts so as to appear to cause the judgments of God to come down upon men.

The form of a beast is not the last form that the second beast takes. It will appear at the end as a false prophet. We have here the first manifestations of it only. The first beast here is seen as a whole; but the end of the second beast is in the latter part of chapter 19, where the beast and the false prophet are taken; in which we can recognise evidently the two beasts mentioned in chapter 13. The second beast does not always retain the character of its terrestrial and secular power. It teaches a doctrine, and, when it loses its power, it gives its influence; it falls as a beast and not as a false prophet.* It is a person who exercises all his influence through his doctrine. He has lost his first character and his first power; no mention is made how he lost them. The power of the second beast was in his miraculous signs. The same influence is seen in the false prophet. The beast is recognised in him. It is a seducing influence, in order to deceive the inhabitants of the earth, and cause them to submit to the first beast, to the Roman empire, who is the immediate depositary of Satan's power.

{*In its final destruction, it is characterised as "the false prophet." It is perhaps uncertain whether its destruction, as false prophet, presents anything else but what characterises the beast, the only character it retains in its last relation with the first beast.}

43It is the end of the inhabitants of the earth. If we are Christians, we are of heaven, and not of the Roman empire. Man thinks that if he could get rid of religion, the march of intellect would be more rapid, and he would be happier. Yes, there would be more activity of mind, but not one tittle of conscience. The mouth will be filled with blasphemies. Some think that Christianity will have the upper hand. No! unbelievers will have their desire, which is the object of their expectation. Man's faculties will produce wonderful things, but they will produce neither conscience nor happiness, nor eternal life; and man is only exalting himself to receive a more terrible blow, a more fearful judgment!

This is what is written in the word of God. Though the great whore shall be indeed destroyed (Rev. 17:16, 17), the result of her destruction will not be the conversion of those who shall have destroyed her, for the ten kings give their authority to the beast. These things must come to pass in order that the judgment of God may take place. Conscience even may throw us into Satan's arms, if we are not kept by the power of Jesus. In order that none may escape the first beast, the second is there to deceive men and to make them believe a lie. We are told of those things that we may avoid the least details of that system of corruption which as yet has the appearance of Christianity, but which has the speech of the dragon. The image of the beast, in verse 15, is the image of the chief of the Roman empire, Antichrist.*

{* See footnote on page 78 and the paper re "Antichrist."}

Verses 17, 18. I confess my ignorance as to the number six hundred and sixty-six. I cannot present you with anything satisfactory to myself. We find, answering to the number six hundred and sixty-six, the words 'apostasy' and 'tradition'; but I cannot say anything positive on the point. Without saying greater spirituality might not discern it now, my impression is that it is a mark graciously given to assure the discernment of those exercised by it at the time.

44 May God give us to see and to mark the course which this world is running, and enable us to avoid all its influences! When one knows what will be the end of a thing, one avoids that which would lead to it. The end of Christendom is awful. God makes us acquainted with it in order that we may avoid it. The more I see what is taking place,* the more I discover that things are hastening on, that evil may have the upper hand and be judged, that God may judge it and purify the earth. The iniquity must be full before God strikes; Gen. 15:16. We are in the last days in this respect. Men believe that there is great progress taking place, yet they feel great uneasiness in the expectation of what is going to happen. Christians must keep apart, living according to the principles of their heavenly calling.

{*These notes were taken in 1842.}

<05013F> Revelation 14

The preceding chapter gives the description and history of the great instruments of evil on the earth. This (which is the last of the three chapters, 12-14, which, taken as a whole, form, so to speak, a book) gives us the history of the ways of God on the earth, during the period of the beast up to the end of the judgments. We find ourselves here (not in heaven, as in chapter 12; not on the earth with the beast, but) on Mount Sion. God still acts in grace, not now with the view of gathering the church, but towards the remnant on the earth.

Verses 1-5. There are redeemed ones from amongst those of the earth; they are first-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. Before the harvest is completely ripe, some of the first-fruits are presented to God. We are the heavenly first-fruits of the whole creation, to be with Christ, who is Head of the creation in a heavenly manner. But God's purpose is that there should be a bond between heaven and earth. Jesus is to unite all things in heaven and on earth. Sin has brought every thing into confusion and rent the tie. Jesus came; and He was, while on earth, a link between heaven and earth. The Holy Ghost came down upon Him. Heaven was open, because Jesus (the only one heaven could recognise) was on the earth. In John 1:51 the angels are seen descending on Him as the Son of man, which will be entirely fulfilled in the time of the glory of Jesus. Stephen saw heaven opened; but Jesus, who is the object of God's delight, was in heaven, where man is entered in Christ, and where man can find a place with Christ. When the Jews rejected the gospel, heaven was opened that the church, full of the Holy Ghost, might contemplate the glory of God. When Jesus was on the earth, heaven looked on the earth; now that Jesus is in heaven, the church on earth looks on high. In a yet fuller revelation, as at the conversion of Paul, it is owned as one with Jesus, who is there.

45 Jesus has not given up His rights over the earth. The church is chosen by Him to be with Him in heaven and to share with Him His rights over the earth. Jesus is to reign and to unite the heavens and the earth. The beginning of this takes place here. The hundred forty and four thousand are on Mount Sion, and learn the song of heaven. In Sinai God required obedience from the earth. Mount Sion, on the contrary, represents kingly grace upon earth. After Israel had failed under Moses, under the judges, and under Saul, David became the king chosen of God to reign over His people. Jesus is to sit on David's throne. David carried the ark to Mount Sion in the city of David; 2 Sam. 6:12-19. It is written in Hebrews 12:22, "But ye are come unto Mount Sion," that is to say, not to heaven, but to the mount of royal grace [in opposition to Sinai], to the mountain where the ark of the covenant was, before the temple was built; Psalm 78:67-72. After Israel had been unfaithful, God made choice of David to feed His people. Mount Sion is the seat of that authority. The passage quoted above in the epistle to the Hebrews shews all the glory that will surround the Lord Jesus when He mounts the throne of David; and the epistle to the Hebrews tells us that we do not belong to the system of Sinai, where man fails, but to the system of grace.

John sees the Lamb on Mount Sion. We cannot enjoy God's favour but through the Lamb; and the suffering Lamb was the true Messiah and heir of David. Heaven is raising a song of joy, because the blessing of the earth is beginning to appear. Those that are redeemed from the earth learn this song. It is a peculiar work and blessing before the general harvest. They are the ears of ripe corn, the first-fruits chosen and presented to God before the others. The hundred forty and four thousand are the only ones that can learn that song. Their ear is more quick to understand the things of heaven, and to be a link between heaven and earth.

46 In the Revelation "the earth" is always distinct from the world. The earth, where the light has already shone, is what is called the prophetic earth. Before God judges the nations, kindreds, people, and tongues (which are outside the earth), as well as those who inhabit the earth, there shall be given a new testimony - that of the angel who announces the judgments of God which are going to fall on the world (v. 6, 7). It is not here the gospel that gathers the church; it is the everlasting gospel. The testimony of the angel is, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." This testimony bears on the judgment of God, and is an appeal to the idolatrous nations to flee from this judgment. There is no question here of the message of salvation which God is now addressing to men by the preaching of the name of Jesus. To apply this passage to the present missions is to close the mouth of the angel who says "The hour of his judgment is come." God, on the contrary, allows us time still to announce and to proclaim His grace towards poor sinners, and to preach the gospel to every creature. The time for this message is that of which the Holy Spirit says, "Behold, now is the day of salvation." The gospel we have to preach gathers the church for heaven; that of the angel announces the judgment to the earth. God always sends a special testimony before the judgment. He sent Noah before the deluge; He will act in the same manner before the judgment of the earth.

Verse 8 shews us the downfall of Babylon. This is not yet the fall of the beast. Babylon is the city of corruption, where everything has become merchandise, even the souls of men. The particulars of this judgment are seen a little farther on.

Verses 9-11. A third angel announces the chastisement of the inhabitants of the earth, who worship the beast. Men must choose between the wrath of God or that of the beast. The great proof of faith at that time will be in not worshipping the beast.

Verse 12. "Here is the patience of the saints." There are times when one can walk quietly. An entire separation from the world, then, is that in which faithfulness would consist; but peace renders this difficult, because, the respective boundaries being easily forgotten, worldliness comes in. In times of persecution faithfulness consists in bearing testimony, and in not denying the Lord, nor His testimony, in order to escape the wrath of man and of the enemy.

47 Verse 13. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth." The question of dying for Jesus is settled in the happiness of those who die, in their glory and their return with Christ.

Verses 14-16 shew us the harvest of the earth. The harvest includes both good and evil. It is the end of the age. It concerns here only the earth. Two shall be found in one bed; one shall be taken for judgment, the other left, as it happened at the deluge and in Sodom. The world is judged and separated from those that are faithful.

Verses 17-20. Fire always figures the judgment of God. Every one shall be salted with fire. The work of every one shall pass through the fire. The angel coming from the altar has power over the fire, over God's judgment.

There are three things to be remarked in what Scripture says of the vine. "The house of Israel is the vine of the Lord of hosts, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant," Isaiah 5:7. But this vine of Israel produced but sour grapes. John 15 presents to us Jesus as being Himself the vine on earth, the true vine; but He is rejected. It is because this vine is on the earth, that every branch which beareth not fruit is taken away. The question there is not concerning the elect for heaven, as such. A Jew might conform himself to the law, and yet produce no fruit. The question now is about bearing fruit. What we have in the Revelation presented to us here is a vine on earth, the form of the people of God in the earth; but each cluster is the object of the judgment and of the wrath of God. It is not a harvest in which you have to separate the good corn from the bad. There is nothing but what is bad in that vine, and there is an awful judgment of God "without the city," near Jerusalem, and in Edom; Isaiah 63:1-6. One does not understand how this passage could be applied to the work of Jesus on the cross. He is clothed with glorious apparel. He is in all the greatness of His strength. He treads the winepress, and tramples down the People in His anger. His garments are sprinkled with their blood, not theirs with His. It is then He redeems the Jews. At the cross His arm did not save Him. The vine, the form of religion in the earth, will be the object of judgment. This contains an allusion to what took place amongst the Jews. In Leviticus 23 the feasts are presented to us in the following order:

48 Firstly. The Passover: Christ is our Passover. Secondly. Pentecost: the coming of the Holy Ghost has given us the reality of that feast; the Holy Ghost gathers the church as the first-fruits of creation. Thirdly. The feast of Tabernacles: this feast has not yet had its antitype. Several months of interval elapsed without feasts after Pentecost. In the seventh month which begins with the feast of trumpets, on the tenth day the people were to afflict their souls. On the fifteenth day began the feast of tabernacles, during which Israel lived in tents, in remembrance and as a testimony that Israel had been a stranger and a pilgrim in the desert - he who now was living in peace in the land of promise. The feast of tabernacles was celebrated after the harvest and the vintage were over, after the produce of the earth had been gathered. This harvest and this vintage are yet to come, and the true feast of tabernacles has not yet taken place.

To sum up things, Revelation 14 presents to us an elect people; grace acting, and a testimony rendered; the downfall of Babylon; a warning to those who shall worship the beast; the blessedness of those who die in the Lord; the harvest; and the vintage of the earth.

It is very instructive for us to see where all this leads, and what the end of it will be. All that which is of the flesh shall fall under God's judgment. It is there that all men's prospects and hopes end. There is also the consolation of being able to rise above these things, of seeing heaven open. The more death is our condition on earth, the more also we shall see of heaven. If the power of the Holy Ghost carries us to bear a testimony that would lead us to death, we shall be a thousand times more happy, and we shall see heaven open for us. The principles of the corruption of the earth are all in activity. Faithfulness consists in fleeing from those principles whose fruits are clusters for the vintage of the earth.