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

J. N. Darby.

<05014F> 49 {file section c.}

Revelation 15, 16

These two chapters contain one and the same subject: namely, the vengeance of God. The seven vials are the vials of the wrath of God. They are still things preparatory. It is the wrath of God, and not yet that of the Lamb and His judgment. Chapter 17 is an episode on Babylon. Chapter 18 is the judgment of Babylon.

49 Revelation 15. The things presented to us in this chapter do not form a continuation of those contained in chapter 14. We have another sign. It is the description of the last plagues by which God will consummate His wrath against the inhabitants of the earth. They are preparatory judgments, which invite men to repent, but which, after all, only provoke anger. We do not yet see the Lamb here; it is not the manifestation of Jesus in Person.

Throughout the Apocalypse, we find the faithfulness of God towards His people before the execution of His judgments. No, it is impossible one hair should be lost, even if the faithful be killed. Satan can for a while kill the body, but all his power ends there. Verses 2 and 3 set before our eyes the symbols of things very affecting. The circumstances of the scene allude to the service of the temple. The sea of glass recalls to mind the brazen sea in the temple. We have seen souls under the altar of burnt offerings. We are led here a little farther to the laver, the brazen sea, where the consecrated priests washed their feet, as Jesus washes the feet of those whom He has consecrated priests, after having been made a burnt-offering for them. This brazen sea represents purity. The sea here is filled with glass (that is, as transparent as the water was in the brazen laver) but it is solid. It is purity, but not now employed as an instrument of purification; it is firm, unalterable, on which they stand. (Compare chap. 21:18.) In our contact with the world we are always defiled. Our feet are on the earth. We are washed; but we walk on the earth that is defiled, and Jesus washes our feet. In the heavenly city we shall walk on purity itself. The whole city is purity. That is the nature of heavenly things. Those that are in the city are in contact with the perfection of the purity of God. There is therefore no longer defilement nor purification. That is in the main what is seen in the elect (v. 2); they stood on the sea of glass. There is, moreover, the fire, because they had gone through the judgments of God. They had come out of tribulation under Antichrist. (See chap. 13:13-16). They had conquered - conquered even unto death. They had also shewn their faithfulness, and had not worshipped the beast. The faithful spoken of here form a distinct class. They are on a sea, as it were, of fire. In principle, this is the character of our tribulations. Water will not always suffice for the hardness of our hearts. Fire, chastisement, trial, become necessary; but trial would be of none effect if there were not the action of the Holy Spirit through the word. If I correct my child and he submits, the punishment ceases; if not, it continues. Therefore it is that we often see trials and chastisements continue. We must then ask and accept that the inward work be perfected, and then the trial will be removed.

50 In chastisements the hand of God is applied to the soul exactly according to the state in which it really is. Abraham, being more faithful than Lot, escapes the sufferings of Lot. Lot's position was more trying. Unfaithfulness may be the occasion for God to manifest His ways, although he that is more faithful will be more blessed at all events. Faithfulness (although displayed in circumstances from which more faithfulness would have kept us) does not fail to have its reward; but it takes place in the midst of more sufferings.

Verse 3. There are two subjects for praise. We may sing the wonders of God, His works, as this was the case in Israel; or else we may sing the ways of God, as it is the case with the church. The church has not known the plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea, Sinai, as events happening to herself; these things are written for her instruction. She has the knowledge of the ways and of the thoughts of God. In the Jewish state, when under tutors and governors (Gal. 4:1-3), those things happened to them, but they were written for us; they were as children, they had need of palpable things. The Red Sea was not divided for us; but when Paul says "they were all baptised to Moses in the sea," I understand better than Israel what the Red Sea means, and I have in the event the knowledge of the intention and of the thought of God, which is evidently a much greater favour.

The faithful sing the song of Moses and that of the Lamb - the visible power of God over the Red Sea and in Sinai; and the glory of God in the Lamb, His faith and His obedience unto death, having been made subject for a while to the power of the wicked. They sing the love of God, the ways of God, the glory of God - things manifested by His judgments, but concentrated in the cross of Jesus.* "How marvellous are all thy works! Thy ways are ways of justice and of truth!" The saints have here these two things before their eyes: the works of God, the manifested deliverance of His people, His judgments over the wicked - this is the song of Moses; the purpose and the counsels of God towards His people - this is the song of the Lamb; Psalm 103:7. "God has made known his ways unto Moses; His acts unto the children of Israel." Moses had seen on the mount the pattern of the things of God, the pattern of the tabernacle. The names given to God in verse 3 are those of Jehovah, a name revealed to Israel; and of Almighty, a name revealed to Abraham. It is the works of God that these names recall.

{*I have some doubt whether the song of the Lamb does not refer here rather to the exaltation of the Lamb in royal power and preferment in the latter day, than to His perfect work on the cross. The Lamb had been slain; but in the Revelation it is ever rather the place He who had been slain takes than His death that is in question. It is that suffering Person that is brought forward. So here. Mercy and truth will then be met together; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Truth shall flourish out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. These are God's ways. No doubt this was morally accomplished on the cross; but that Psalm speaks of its manifestation in result on earth, and so here. It is the manifestation on earth of these things rather that is sung, not that in which they are known to faith.}

51 We see in verse 4 how the nations will be brought to God, namely, because His judgments will be fully manifested. Isaiah 26:9, 10 displays the same principle, a principle which is essential to the understanding of the ways of God in this respect. "Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness." This is what we have set forth to us in the gospel; but when the judgments of God are upon the earth, the inhabitants of this world will "learn righteousness." Judgment will devour the wicked, and the earth will be instructed thereby. The effect of the gospel will not be to render the inhabitants of the earth subject to God: the gospel is to gather the church for the heavenly glory. It is because the judgments are made manifest that the nations come and prostrate themselves before God.

Verses 5-8 open to us a new scene. The seven angels are clothed in pure and white linen; it is personal holiness. They have their breasts girded with golden girdles. Gold is the emblem of the perfect righteousness, of the justice, of God. The girdle is the sign of activity in service, or of that government and of that power over ourselves which would render us fit to act, and by its very character to execute this righteousness. Christ also is girded with a golden girdle. Here, it is not grace that is in activity; it is the wrath and vengeance of God.

52 Jesus had said, "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19) - a position of faithfulness while the testimony lasts. There will be a time when God alone will testify of Himself, without any man's testimony rendered to Him; it will be a testimony of vengeance, because His power and His righteousness have been despised by man.

The vials are given by [one of] the four living creatures. The smoke from the glory of God is a testimony of power and majesty; but it obscures and hinders any relations with God, and no one at that time can draw near Him. God does not appear there, either in the ark or in Christ, where He is reconciling man to Himself, and dwells in Israel. It is a time of majesty and not of grace.

<05015F> 52 In chapter 16 the vials are poured out. The prophetic earth is here the object of judgment - the earth, where God made Himself known, and where He has been rejected. The vials of His wrath are to be poured out upon the impenitent inhabitants of that earth. When God alone can render a testimony to Himself, because every other testimony has been rejected, all the world must undergo the vengeance of God.

Revelation 16.
You will recollect that we have been particularly occupied with those that are on the sea of glass, who escape the judgment, and are singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. They had expressed in their song that the judgments of God were fully manifested. The angels come out of the temple for the execution of these judgments. We have distinguished between the wrath of God which falls on the earth, without Christ being manifested, and the judgment and the wrath of the Lamb manifested in person. The manifestation of the Lord Jesus and of His judgment is something quite distinct from the wrath of God; and when God has acted in His wrath, all is not over. God manifests solely His glory through the instruments He has chosen, and it is not then the time to enter into the temple. The wrath of the Lamb, which is subsequent to these events, falls on the beast, who is brought on the scene in a peculiar way after this.

Verses 1, 2. The scene is altered. Before, it was the beast who persecuted those who had not its image: now, God is acting, and smites those that had persecuted and such as had submitted themselves to the power of the beast. The sun here is only the supreme authority over the earth - that which shines on the earth and on this prophetic scene of judgments. The inhabitants of the earth had worshipped the beast and persecuted the saints and the prophets. When the vial of the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth, it strikes those who had worshipped the beast and received its mark. An allusion is here made to what took place in Egypt. A malignant and dangerous ulcer, misery and anguish reach those who would not bow down to the Lord Jesus, who preferred ease upon the earth and the lie of Satan. Thus it is that men blind themselves, and then God sends judicial blindness. He hardened Pharaoh's heart and made fat the heart of Israel. God will do likewise to the world which calls itself Christian, and which is rejecting His warnings and despising His judgments. God gives them up to a lie, and then sends His judgments upon them. The end of the Christianised world is seen in the remaining part of the book. The more I read those passages, the more I am astonished how those who read them can do so without learning from them that all we see around us is coming to an end, and an end in condemnation.

53 Verses 3-7. The second angel pours out his vial on the sea, on the nations which are outside the prophetic earth. The earth is the theatre where things of a moral character in the creation are resolved. Infidels have often made a comparison between the importance of this earth and that of other stars; but in this they have only shewn the folly of their wisdom. It is in man and in this earth that all moral questions of God's justice, and of His wisdom, and of His love, are resolved. The importance of the battle does not proceed from the place where it is fought, but from the principles which it decides. Here it is that all which manifests the dominion of God and the power of evil is brought into evidence by the death and resurrection of Jesus. During the time of the Jewish dispensation, Judea is the scene of the manifestation of God's ways; it is then called "the earth." Now, "the earth" is Christendom, where God's ways were also displayed. "The sea" is the mass of the nations dispersed outside this prophetic earth. There is a universal judgment upon those nations. The rivers represent people made distinct the one from the other, as under the influence of certain principles. Thus it is said, the fountain of Jacob.

54 The blood out of the body is death. Death is the character of the judgment which falls on those nations. Moses changed the water into blood. With regard to those mentioned here, the principle of their life and of their being before God is death. They are given death to drink. They shed the blood of the saints, of the righteous, and God gives them up to death (v. 6, 7). The voice comes out of the altar, because it is there, so to speak, that the souls that have been persecuted, and of whom God is taking vengeance, were (so to speak) offered to Him. The expression "as the blood of a dead man" gives the most awful idea of death. In the body is the blood, is the life. That which ought to sustain life becomes the expression of death. Verses 8, 9. The sun, the power which rules over the earth, becomes intolerable, and scorches men as with fire.

Verse 10. When judgment comes alone, it does not produce repentance. God has had patience with the world, and this patience has delayed the return of Jesus. The apostles had been taught by God to wait for the return of the Lord Jesus. Man finds that the Lord delays His coming; but, when the church holds this language, she begins to do her own will, and to enter into fellowship with the world. From the moment the servant says within his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming," he beats his fellow-servants, and begins to eat and to drink with the drunken; he becomes unfaithful and worldly. It is true the Bridegroom does delay His return; nevertheless, we must wait; and those who are like men waiting for their master shall reap according to their expectation. If we give up waiting for Him, we prepare ourselves a part with the hypocrites. The waiting for Jesus was that which at the beginning detached the heart from the world, and rendered faithful. The Christian religion has made its way into the world, in consequence of this faithfulness, and of this detachment from it. If we wish to act with power over a mass of men, we must be above their range of character. The church is not to adopt the principles of men - she is to manifest God. The looking for the Lord is what distinguished the earlier Christians, and separated them from the world. Who will have the better part, those who have acted thus, or such as have said, My Lord delayeth His coming? As soon as such language is held to us, a principle is proposed which falsifies our position as Christians. And although He does in fact delay His coming, yet those who are waiting for Him are fulfilling His intention, and those who do not wait for Him shall be made ashamed.

55 God has patience towards the world, and waits, because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But the judgment comes sooner or later. I see evidently that men oppose the doctrine of the coming of Jesus, or at least that they would wish to persuade themselves that He is not coming so very quickly. This is the principle of the unfaithful servant, and this principle leads the Christian to mix with the world; whereas the looking for the coming of Jesus separates the Christian from the world. God has had patience. He has given warnings; and, when these judgments strike men, men blaspheme. When the will is not subdued, the heart is always made bitter through chastisements.

Verses 11, 12. The fifth angel smites the seat of the beast, not the beast itself. The irritation of man's heart against God has become excessive, and men gnaw their tongues in their frenzy. The kingdom of the beast, which had made such fine promises, is filled with anguish. It is even so now with God's enemies, their conscience is gnawing them.

Verse 12. The sixth angel pours out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. We see evidently that the beast is not destroyed, although its empire is rendered miserable. There is an interval here, as after the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet. The river Euphrates, which is the barrier of the prophetic earth on the side of the east, is dried up. The barrier falls, and the kings from the east can enter.

Verse 13 presents to us the direct power of Satan, the dragon, the direct enemy to Jesus, the Christ; the power of the beast, the Roman empire in its state of revolt against God; the power of the false prophet. Unclean spirits proceed from them and go to the kings of the earth. All that which governs and directs in the earth will be gathered by these three unclean spirits. It is not then Christianity that will embrace the world by its influence; on the contrary, it is the diabolical influences which gather the inhabitants and the powers of the earth. It is very evident that unclean spirits are not the gospel; and there is not a greater illusion than to believe that the Christian religion will extend to, and embrace, the world. It is undoubtedly through judgments that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (not the knowledge of His grace) shall cover the earth; Hab. 2:14. It is easy for men to say, We shall fill: but this is not said. It is written "For the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." This does not mean that the gospel is not to be preached. If I believe that the judgment will come quickly and fall on Christendom, this will urge me to bear testimony according to the mind of God, and not according to the illusions of men. See the judgment that is coming, and seek with all your might to draw sinners away from the wrath to come. When we see infidelity more and more openly manifested, and a testimony designed to rescue men from the ways of wickedness, it is a proof that judgment is drawing nigh. If three thousand souls were converted in one day, it was because Jerusalem was going to be given up.

56 Verse 15 contains another warning. I do not know anything satisfactory as to the word Armageddon mentioned in verse 16. Compare Judges 5:19 and 2 Kings 23:29; but the first passage rather. We see from verse 17 to verse 21 the great upsetting and confusion of the nations. All that which seems strongest and most elevated (mountains) is overthrown. A direct judgment from God falls upon man. All the foundations of the earth, as a system half moral and half civil, are thrown down. What a blessing for the Christian to have assured peace, to know that, having kept the word of the patience of Christ, he shall also be kept from the hour of temptation; and the more the storm is raging outside, the more there is calm and tranquillity in the house of God! We have on our side the immutability of the throne itself, from whence proceed these judgments, and these judgments do not touch us. This is the joy of the child of God. The peace of God keeps him in the midst of the awful time coming on the world.

<05016F> Revelation 17

We have now entered on the scenes of the last judgments, which God is to fulfil in order to introduce the glory of Jesus. The seven vials have accomplished the wrath of God. The Spirit of prophecy gives with more detail the two forms of evil developed at the end - Babylon and the beast. Things are more simple and more easy to understand than at the beginning of the Apocalypse. When evil becomes openly manifest, the thing is more evident; for the winding up of the scene of this world interests more particularly the church.

57 Verse 1. In speaking of heavenly things, one speaks of things that are not yet as though they were, for God has foreseen and judged everything. Heaven is familiar with evil as judged, as with that which is good to enjoy it. God has taken notice of everything beforehand; and all is found on the path to His glory. The angel is familiarly acquainted with all that relates to the great whore. To us this is not clear and must be explained. All that happens to us is foreknown and pre-arranged of God, in order that His child may stand in the midst of difficulties. All I have to do is to say - God is perfectly acquainted with the position I am in, and He knows the way He has prepared to extricate me out of difficulties if I remain faithful. In all things present your requests to God, knowing that He cares for you. John could not so much as even imagine such a thing as this great whore; she has the double character of corruption and influence over the nations.

Two things are contained in this chapter: Babylon and the beast; corruption and the power of evil in violence. Man's will manifests itself in two ways - corruption and violence: this was the world's state at the time of the deluge. Satan is a liar and a murderer. The Lord Jesus is the truth and the life, instead of being a liar and a violent man. Antichrist does his own will. Jesus does the will of Him that sent Him. Here is corruption, violence, self-will, and murder. Babylon is corruption in all its depth; and the beast is self-will, revolting even against God Himself. These two principles, which have been from the beginning, are embodied, and act.

Verse 2. The kings of the earth are the powers where light has shined, the powers of the last prophetical scene of monarchies. Verse 3. Babylon is centre of commerce, of riches, the capital of the vanities of the world, the mother of idolatries; but as to the Spirit of God, it is a desert (v. 3). He finds nothing in the world that can satisfy the holy desires of a renewed heart. What the flesh or the natural man loves, the Spirit hates. What is desirable to the natural heart is only a desert and corruption to the Spirit.

The beast, having seven heads and ten horns, is the Roman empire. The woman is here seated on the beast, and rules it. This is the relationship between the moral corruption of this world and the civil powers. Later these relations are changed. In the Old Testament Babylon poisons the nations. Here also she is the centre to which the nations are attracted, the centre of the corruption, the luxury, and the glory of this world. It is also the centre of religious idolatry; Dan. 3.* This system of corruption at the beginning rides the beast and rules it. The kings of the earth find it profitable for themselves to sustain this relationship with the woman; corruption governs.

{*The idolatry is that by which God characterises its real Satanic evil, its luxury, and pleasure, and gain, that by which man is attracted to it.}

58 The names of blasphemy are varied characters of self-will and of rebellion in the beast which opposes God.

Verse 5. We see in Babylon the spring of all corruption. She is the cause that all the relationships that ought to subsist with God, are sustained with the world. She leads men to abandon the true God; they may give themselves up to idols.

Verse 6. The secular power puts the saints actually to death; but it is Babylon who is guilty. She is drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus. As it was once Jerusalem that was guilty of the blood of prophets, so it is now in Babylon that the blood of the saints is to be found. It is here we find the principle of that religion which is connected with the world, and has its resources there. It is the most hateful thing in the sight of God.

Verse 7. John is marvelling that that which had the form of godliness and the name of religion should be guilty of the blood of the martyrs. It must have been no less amazing to a Jew that God should require of Jerusalem the blood of the prophets. In the sight of God one generation inherits of the preceding generations all the iniquity which they have completed. Their conscience ought to be warned by this iniquity. "Ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers," says the Lord. If Christians are not entirely separated from Babylon, they inherit the iniquity of the preceding times, because they join themselves with it, their conscience not gathering any instruction from it. When man has exhausted one principle, God presents him with another to work upon his conscience: and, if he rejects it, he is so much the more guilty. In Abel nature is violated; afterwards, the traditional knowledge of God; Rom. 1:18-23. Afterwards it is the law; and then it is Jesus Himself who comes to put the heart to the proof. When the knowledge of the Father and of the Son is introduced, the Jews then seek to shew their faithfulness to God by killing those who introduce this knowledge. Man glories in a truth that costs him nothing inasmuch as it is generally received, and takes advantage of it to oppose the admission of more light which would demand faith. The Jews insist on the unity of God in order to deny the Son. When we appeal to a truth that was blessed to us at one time, in order to refuse another sent now, it is rejecting the means by which God will act now. It was the bigoted Jews, not the heathen, that opposed themselves most to the introduction of Christianity.

59 Sincerity alone will not do. The new light must be admitted. They will kill you, "because they have not known the Father nor me," John 17:3. Thus it is that the most precious light becomes the instrument of evil in the hands of infidelity. This principle is very important for those who are acting in the kingdom of God. From verse 8 the angel leaves the woman, to give us the history of the beast.

The contents of verse 8 had already been announced in a less clear manner before. When the Roman empire is spoken of, it is said that it exists no more. Here we find this difficulty foreseen, pointed out, and explained. Here is the key to the enigma, with the certainty that He who gave it invented the enigma also.

The Roman empire is to come out of the bottomless pit, from the region of darkness, and act with power for evil. It is a very serious matter to see at the end the power, which has dominion over the earth, come up out of the bottomless pit itself. The inhabitants of the earth shall marvel at this kind of resurrection of the Roman empire, and then it is that the world shall follow after the beast; chap. 13:3. It will be seduced when the beast shall have taken the character of the resurrection of the Roman empire destroyed centuries ago.

Verses 9, 10. There is a certain likeness between the woman and the beast. A woman, a city built on the perfection of power, on seven mountains, represents the centre of corruption. The beast has seven heads also. The heads are kings, or powers of government. Five are fallen - five kings, or five forms of government. The particular facts which have accomplished parts of this are of little importance. History is not necessary in order to understand prophecy. It is even oftentimes an obstacle, because what is often important to man is not so to God, for God has Christ in view.

60 Although history fulfils prophecy, yet it never explains it; whereas prophecy explains history. The faithful are called to believe in the prophecy before it is fulfilled. The way to understand the word is to have the mind of God, and to apprehend His purposes with respect to Christ. At the time of the apostle five kings had already fallen. The sixth was there. A seventh was to come for a short time.

Verse 11. The eighth head of the beast is the beast itself, the whole power of the beast concentrated in the person of the chief. It is the Roman empire brought to life again through Satan, with a diabolic character, but which shall be destroyed. There will be a restoration hereafter of the Roman empire, and this restored empire shall be destroyed by the power of God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the man of sin is called the son of perdition.

Verse 12. The ten horns have their power the same time with the beast. The kingdoms that arose out of the destruction of the Roman empire through the barbarians were not the prophetic horns. The trouble men have taken on this subject has been to no purpose. The barbarian kings destroyed the Roman empire instead of exercising their power at the same time with it. There will be a kind of confederation of kings with a centre, that is, a head exercising power in the midst of them.

Verse 14. These kings will make war with the Lamb; but the Lamb, who is the King of kings, shall overcome them. The church shall accompany Him. The called, the elect, and the faithful, these are they who shall be with Him.

Verse 16. The horns.* They shall hate the whore, and shall eat her flesh, and make her desolate and naked. They are tired of her, and cannot endure her any longer. Man thinks that, if he could get rid of this outward and corrupted form of Christianity, he would be blessed. It is the contrary. When the ten kings have made the whore desolate and naked, they give their kingdom to the beast. The kings of the earth will not give their power to Christ: quite the contrary; they will give it to the beast, and will make war with the Lamb. It is inconceivable how those who read the word of God can entertain the thought that the kings of the earth shall give their power to the Lamb. If one could succeed in destroying the whore, there would be no other result than to make war with the Lamb. It is important the church of God should not be deceived in this respect. God is warning us, in order that we may escape the way that leads to perdition.

{*The best manuscripts add, "and the beast," which would modify what is said here. Thus, in following the will of the beast in the destruction of the woman, it would seem that it is not at the time when her destruction takes place that they give first their power to the beast. It is a proof of their subjection, but not its commencement.}

61 This chapter is divided into three essential parts: the woman, who becomes the centre of corruption, and who exercises her influence over the mass of people; the beast, which has ascended out of the bottomless pit; the ten kings, who* persecute the woman, give their power to the beast, and fall in making war with the Lamb.

{*With the beast. See the preceding note.}

A distinction is to be made between the expressions the woman and the whore. That Rome has been the centre, this I do not doubt. The woman is the city; but the whore embraces a whole system of corruption that has varied forms, and of which the spirit of worldliness, long covered over under the form of religion, is the over-ruling principle. In this chapter the whore is more particularly shewn to us under her religious form.* Her flesh is eaten, and she is no more seated on the beast, because the kings give their power to the beast, and the beast itself rules.

{*There is no doubt but that the abominations presented here, as that which characterise the great whore, are idolatries; religious corruption characterises her. Worldliness and luxury serve as occasions to dazzle the eyes, and to blind and take hold of the heart. All these latter things fall into ruin, but the cause for the judgment is the religious evil. (See the note, page 60).}

It is important to avoid these principles and forms that lead to perdition. The chosen, the called, and the faithful are with the Lamb when He destroys the beast and the kings. This is exceedingly precious, and separates from the spirit of this world. A heathen is not in Babylon. He cannot be there. A Christian may be found there. Whatever connects the world with religion is the principle of Babylon. The spirit of Babylon, the spirit of worldliness, is very slippery ground. Therefore it is that we are warned of God. May God keep us!

<05017F> 62 Revelation 18

We have seen that at all times there is lying and violence, Babylon and the beast. Satan was from the beginning a liar and a murderer. From the beginning of chapter 17 to chapter 19:10 we see the contrast between Babylon and the New Jerusalem. In order to shew us the judgment of the whore, the Spirit has presented to us, in chapter 17, the woman and the beast in their relations one with the other. Here, in chapter 18, Babylon is shewn to us standing alone, that the judgment on her may be revealed.

The great principle seen in Babylon is worldliness, but worldliness as a position of captivity for the people of God, in connection with the prostitution of man's natural affections. In the Old Testament fornication is applied to trade, not to trade with an eye to provide for wants, but to the spirit of trade to make a gain of it. Tyre is a proof of this. Idolatry was, properly speaking, the sin of adultery* for Jerusalem, because the Eternal was her husband. In the church it is called prostitution, because the marriage of the Lamb has not yet taken place; but there is more moral connection than one thinks, because the heart is at a distance from God, and conscience likewise, by the allurement of gain and covetousness, which is idolatry; Eph. 5:5 (see also Phil. 3:13-20). The most abominable form of worldliness is that of those who call themselves Christians, separated unto God by the blood of the Lamb, and are living in worldliness, after the principles of the world who rejected the Lord Jesus. We are speaking of moral analogies. We have already seen how idolatry characterises Babylon, the abominations meaning idolatry.

{*As a general term, fornication is used for idolatry, as the Greek is indeed for adultery.}

The Revelation is almost entirely borrowed from the Old Testament; so that we derive much light from the Old Testament for the understanding the book of Revelation. Babylon is the enemy of Jerusalem. Israel came out from Egypt. Egypt is the world in its natural state; this is not so with Babylon.* Babylon was, from the beginning, the spirit of worldliness, presenting the allurements of this world to the heart come out of Egypt. It was a goodly Babylonish garment which attracted the heart of Achan; Josh. 7:21. When the king of Babylon sent unto Hezekiah, because he had heard that he had been sick and was recovered (2 Kings 20:12; Isaiah 39:1), Hezekiah shewed all that was found in his treasures to the men that the king of Babylon had sent him. But Isaiah said unto him, "All that which thy fathers have laid up in store shall be carried to Babylon." As soon as the church will extol herself before the world through things pertaining to it, she will, as is besides always the case, fall under the influence and under the power of the world. Later Babylon is presented in her power, and the people of Israel captive under it. There is the idolatry, the golden statue, and all kinds of riches. Babylon is the centre of idolatry, and of the power of the world. She fell by the power of Cyrus, and the people of God were delivered to a certain extent. Such are, in the Old Testament, the features of Babylon. Babylon is the power of this world, which makes a traffic of everything of the world, which has been exalted because of the iniquity of the people of God, and where the people of God have been found in captivity. When the church becomes worldly, the world has always the advantage over her.

{*A pagan is in Egypt. Satan is his prince. Israel came out of Egypt - never returned there, but was in captivity in Babylon.}

63 What we find in Revelation 18 is not Babylon in her glory, but in her downfall. It is the judgment of Babylon; v. 2, 3. She has for a season enjoyed the pleasures of the earth. After her downfall she becomes a habitation of demons; and, at the same time, it is said to the people of God (v. 4), "Come out of her, my people." Israel has been, through the judgment of God, captive in Babylon. When Babylon fell, Israel came out of her. If I discern Babylon, I am called to come out of her. Verse 8. The people of God are called upon to reward her, even as she rewarded them, and to double unto her double according to her works. And the church in heaven is called to rejoice over her, because the Lord God has judged her (v. 20).

Why does the Spirit of God enumerate all these articles of luxury and commerce? (v. 11-13). It is in order to describe unto us what is the occupation of the children of Babylon. All was merchandise to her. She was the centre of all those things which the inhabitants of the earth enjoy. And if the bodies and the souls of men could help in any way to this enjoyment, they also would be made a traffic of. All is made then a matter of gain, of pleasure, and of commerce of this world. This spirit is seen already, although all these details re not yet visible. To traffic and to become rich, there is the spring of all the actual politics of the world; and if the traffic of souls can serve to that end, it matters not, provided the aim be attained to make much gain and to embellish this world, of which Satan is the prince. The more facilities increase to satiate this thirst after gain and luxury, the more the souls of men will be devoured with the lust after them. The world must be everything, and the prince of this world must rule without obstacle, and everything must yield to this. Nothing is more melancholy than to see that everything is to be made a matter of selling and of buying, that this is the end of everything in this world, and that everything yields when the question is a matter of gain. This annihilation of all principle through the spirit of gain leaves an open field to the ascendancy Satan has over the hearts of men to enslave them under his dominion. It is to be feared that the hearts of Christians may be carried away by these principles; for the principles of the world take possession, to a certain point, of Christian hearts. They glory even in them.

64 There was not only positive hatred and murder in Cain's heart, but also the character of the prince of this world. He built a city and embellished the world; Gen. 4:16. Satan rules over the hearts of men through these means, and thus becomes the prince of this world through means of all the pleasures of life, which the world calls innocent pleasures. They say, Why, what harm is there in riches, in music, in drawing, and in so many other things? Why, that Satan, by their means, rules the world and enslaves the hearts of men for eternity. This is the character of Babylon. It is an abominable thing when a Christian can put up with Babylon's principles, and conform his taste to them.

This corruption and this system of pleasure are especially evil for us, inasmuch as all these things are done when man, having been driven from the presence of God, and gone out from before the face of the Lord, has done his best in arranging the world, in forming a polite society, in cultivating arts, and creating pleasures, etc. God has presented to the world His own Son as Heir of all things, and the world has rejected Him. But the Father receives the rejected Son, and the world is found in direct opposition to God. After having killed his brother, and being cast out of the presence of God, Cain embellishes the world. The world had already been sinning against God; but, like Cain, it added to this the murder of Him who, in grace became man. Jesus is not of the world, but of the Father. "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee," John 17:25. What characterises the disciples is, that they follow the Son to heaven, are heavenly-minded, and not of the world. "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world," 1 John 2:16. The Father is opposed to the world, the Son to Satan, the Spirit to the flesh. So far as the Christian enters into the ways of the world, it is a complete prostitution. When the world is in the place of the church and holds the church in captivity, the full character of Babylon is then unfolded, although she was already Babylon before she did it and in order to do it. Whatever makes the world happy in spite of God is in the spirit and course of Babylon, and for the Christian to be there is to be in Babylon. The world may get rich without our having anything to do with it; but when a goodly Babylonish garment is found in the tent of Achan, then the whole camp is corrupted, and God judges it. When friendly associations begin to take place between Babylon and the people of God, it is an indication that all Hezekiah's riches are going to be transported there. When Hezekiah is rich enough to make a display of his treasures, the principles of the world are working in him, and judgment begins already. When Babylon becomes guilty of carrying Israel away captive, the people of God are already without power.

65 Verse 4. The misfortune of the people of God is to have any part in the sin of Babylon; and the only way to avoid having any part in it is to come out - to come out of her, not to be made partaker of her sins, and so not to receive of her plagues in consequence. We come out of her because of her sins and not to be partakers in them, not because her plagues have arrived. It is evident that true Christians, the church, have become worldly. God has had long patience. Babylon falls when Belshazzar is boasting, not merely of having the people of God captive, but also of having prevailed over God. When Babylon fell, the people of God were there; this is what will take place again, though the rapture of the church is to take place first.

The spirit of worldliness opposes itself to the testimony of God, and is guilty of the death of those who have borne testimony to Jesus. The more religion there is in the world, the more obstinately it is set on putting to death those who bear testimony to Jesus. When Nebuchadnezzar made the golden statue, he threw the Hebrews into the furnace. When Jesus Christ is preached, it is the Jews who go from one city to another urging the heathen to persecute the Christians. It is they who pursue to that end the apostles from town to town. That which least bears the light of God is what assumes to be the religion of God without being so. If Jesus be the Son of God in heaven, what have the Jews done? Babylon is the spirit of worldliness cast out far away from God, as guilty of the death of Christ, and which nevertheless gives itself up to embellish the world. Thus the Christ, as the light, is extinguished by the spirit of worldliness. Babylon slays the prophets and the saints. Not being the true God, and there being no possibility of her being of Him (otherwise she would no more be Babylon), she makes use of idolatry, enforcing it as a means to establish unity: that is what Nebuchadnezzar did. Such are the great principles of Babylon; and those who do not act from conscience must undergo the yoke of this prosperous worldliness, which traffics even in the souls of men. The testimony remains with us that the world is not of the Father, that Christ is not of the world, and that the world will be judged (v. 8).

66 Until the judgment of God falls upon the world the world will prosper more and more. This is not yet fully accomplished. But we are warned that we may flee from all those Babylonish principles by which society is embellishing and arranging itself without God, and which leads it even to make a merchandise of conscience.

May God keep our hearts from being made partakers of her sins, that we may not also receive of her plagues! All those Babylonish principles, all that your eyes may lust after for your drawing-rooms and for your pleasures, all those things separate you from heaven. All that is of the world which rejected Christ. Would you perhaps like to be of Babylon on a small scale? As the Spirit is opposed to the flesh, the Son to Satan, so is the Father likewise to the world. It is the power of heavenly affections which takes away the desire after these carnal things.

There are still in Babylon other principles which I have not yet brought under notice. Genesis 10 and 11 give us the enumeration of all the families of the earth, and their divisions. We find therein two great principles which characterise the natural energy of the human heart in doing its own will, viz., the spirit of despotism, and the spirit of association. Nimrod, the first example of individual supremacy, begins to be mighty in the earth; Gen. 10:8. Nebuchadnezzar, the first chief among the four monarchies, exercises by a strong will dominion over his fellow men. On the other hand man does not like to be governed, and he associates himself with others in order to make himself entirely independent of God. Associated with others, he thinks himself capable of everything. "Union," he says, "is strength." And this is true until God intervenes. Men associate together to make themselves a name upon earth; that is the spirit of association. But, when God had scattered men, Nimrod took possession of all they had done. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel; Gen. 10:10. God recognises (Gen. 11:6) the power of the principle of association; but this is the proper principle of Babylon. Man will associate, and, by his own will united to that of others, get some reputation. This spirit of union has no other object than man's glory.

67 For the church there is true unity - "one Spirit and one body." This unity has the Holy Spirit as the power of life, and Christ as the centre of all. Christianity alone could give great force to individuality and to conscience, and at the same time unite men under the direction of Christ towards one centre, which is Christ. This could only be possible by the Holy Spirit, which takes away selfishness, while it gives power to the conscience; giving, by faith, an object to the heart outside of itself - an object which acts on the individual conscience, and unites us all through one predominant affection to one centre of affection, by one life, and one only power of the Spirit.

The unity of Babylon is of quite another nature. It tends to the glory of man, who desires to gather men around one system, which the wisdom and the prudence of man have invented. Babylon will always have a chief. After God had scattered Babel, one man took into his own possession all those scattered wills, united them under his own will, and made them obey. Under the two forms of association and of despotism, it is man who will make himself a name. Conscience is not exercised; there is neither root nor fruit. Conscience does not admit of anything between God and itself. All that man can do, as an instrument, is to put the conscience or the heart in relationship with God. During a long period the spirit of this false Babylonish unity has been outwardly religious; it is none the less for all that the spirit of Babylon.

68 The spirit of association is very powerful in these times. Commercial association governs everything, and a desire for union is everywhere proclaimed. Man will succeed in a wonderful manner; but all this will only end in the confusion of the will of man, and in his submission to Antichrist, as the last chief. The remedy to all this is conscience. The Holy Spirit acts as the spirit of union in the children of God: but conscience cannot be in society and reject its own individual responsibility. It is individual: otherwise God could not be the Master of conscience. The Holy Spirit directs it towards Jesus. If we will avoid the principles of evil, it must be through conscience; there is no other way. Through it we are rendered wise concerning that which is good and simple concerning evil. The Christian who acts from conscience will avoid a thousand snares of which he is not at all aware.

This Babylon, of which we have seen the glory, will be the object of the judgment of God. When this takes place, every enemy will not yet be destroyed. The eighth head of the beast still remains. God still exercises the patience of His children Babylon is a harlot, not an adulteress. Israel was an adulteress, when unfaithful; but the church corrupted is a harlot, because the marriage of the Lamb has not yet taken place. Jehovah was the Husband of Israel. His presence was there, and earthly blessings flowed from it. However, man's folly threw him into idolatry. The bride of the Lamb is not yet formed in its heavenly completeness. The assembling of the universality of the church is not yet completed, neither is it yet risen. The church has still to be in a waiting posture. And as it is not agreeable to wait without possessing, the church would have, like Judaism, some enjoyments in the earth. But the more there is of the Spirit, the more on the contrary there will be suffering, and the more we shall be put in front of the battle. The church, having ceased to look for the return of the Bridegroom, would have pleasure and enjoyment in the world, and has corrupted herself. It is because the system of earthly blessing has failed in Israel that the church has been introduced. The church has only the earnest of her future possessions. Hers is a waiting position. Satan has confounded all this, and has lowered the thought of devotedness in the church. In the beginning no one said that what he had belonged to him. Later one sees, through the epistles, warnings given to the rich; 1 Tim. 6:17-19. Afterwards the church would be rich. The wise virgins slumbered. Satan came in, and the prince of this world has become a prince in the church, even her true members being almost all lost in the corruption. And it is in this corrupted church that Satan is found, and that souls of men even have been sold. At last the kings will not have anything more to do with the harlot.

69 The beast itself having put away the harlot, and she herself being destroyed, the beast will itself make war with the Lamb. It is the Roman empire brought to life again, the eighth head of the beast, which makes war openly with the Lamb. It is no more simply corruption; it is violence. Isaiah 14:12-17 shews us the king of Babylon taking all the titles and the characters of Christ. He would seat himself on the mount of the congregation (at Jerusalem) in the palace of the great king on the sides of the north. He claims all that belongs to Jesus, and assumes to be made like Jesus. He will raise his throne above the stars, ascend above the clouds, be like the Most High. This is a recapitulation of the titles of Jesus, and the boldest form of the pride of the earth. In one sense it is a blessing that this happens, because then God must judge it and destroy it. But the church must before this be united to Jesus, in order to enter into this glory; and we are introduced to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

<05018F> Revelation 19:1 - 9

Glory belongs to God and to the Lamb. If the church is looking for its advantages on the earth, it falls into Babylon. Jesus wills that she should have the glory that belongs to Him, and that she should with Him wait until He enters into His glory to enjoy it with Him. If she is looking for an earthly glory, she becomes unfaithful to her heavenly Bridegroom; and this is the greatest unfaithfulness. We ought not to have any of the things which the price of this world gives, but receive the heavenly things from the hand of God, and expect them from Himself. The church ought to be on the earth the manifestation of that thorough detachment from the earth. She ought to be entirely independent of everything else, and in absolute dependence on God. This is the trial and proof of faith - to refuse the possession of things before God gives them. It was the sin of Saul to have sacrificed before Samuel had come. It is infinitely better to wait for the enjoyment of everything with Christ. "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," 1 Cor. 3:22, 23. And if this link is broken, the relationship between God and the creature is broken also. The church must wait for the epoch of her glory, until the judgment of God be executed. Satan always tries to deceive the church in this respect. He even endeavours to unite Christians in a spirit of human association to arrive at a spiritual millennium which is not promised, and which would exalt man and the means he has in his hand. Nothing will make the bride happy but the presence of the Bridegroom. On the other hand, God will not exercise His power in the government of the world without Christ. Those who endeavour to produce a spiritual millennium want to use the resources of men. And as they must have money, they rest on what man can give. It is a Babel, notwithstanding the excellence of the intentions; and Christians who expect the blessing before the judgment always rest on the energy of man.

70 Verses 3, 4. The church praises the Lord because of the judgment of Babylon. The Lamb is not yet manifested. God judges corruption. The Lamb judges the beast, because it rises up against the King of kings. Verses 5, 6. God begins to take possession of His kingdom. When God acts as king, He executes judgment. If He were now acting as a king, every soul here would be cut off; but now He is acting in patience and in grace during the priesthood of Jesus.

Verse 7 is the expression of our joy. It is impossible that Christ can take possession of His kingdom before the church has made herself ready, and is manifested in the glory, and, that having been through resurrection, introduced into the glory for the marriage of the Lamb. Jesus will have us united to Him in the glory. When Christ shall manifest His glory, He wills that the world which has despised us should know that we are loved even as Christ Himself was loved. The marriage of the Lamb will be to us the manifestation of that love. Babylon being judged, the Lord celebrates the marriage-supper of the Lamb. We see the contrast between Babylon, the glory of the world, and the church of God, which has suffered with Christ, which has been persecuted in the world, but which is now glorified with Jesus. We see here the entirely heavenly character of the church.

71 The sufferings of the church are absolutely necessary to her. As soon as she ceases to suffer, she begins to lose her true character, and her testimony in the world ceases. Awakenings have always been accompanied with difficulties and persecutions, because Satan is not yet bound. A man who cannot use arms to defend himself must suffer. It is also very trying to live with persons around us without having one thought in common with them; and the more the natural affections are alive the more the heart will suffer. The Holy Spirit quickens sensibility; but He gives strength to bear the suffering. At the same time, sensibility being more tender, it is wounded on every side without meeting with any sympathy. God tries Christians thus in order to manifest Christ in them. He cannot alter this until He has executed the judgment. As long as the heart yields itself to the testimony God sends, it is yet the time during which God will leave His children in suffering. The power of the Holy Spirit is not of the world: it enters into the world; but it cannot accustom itself to the world, neither find there its contentment. If we consider the mission of the Holy Spirit, the position of the Bridegroom in heaven, all concurs to decide us to suffer with Christ and for His name.

Is it anything extraordinary that the Holy Spirit should attach us to heaven, and detach us from the earth? Jesus had the taste of heaven in everything He did, and the world cannot bear this. Whatever binds the church to the world loosens her from Christ. Jesus cannot recognise anything in the world, for there is nothing in the world that has not, according to its power, contributed to reject Him. It is impossible for a wife to attach herself to two husbands. It is not only forbidden, but it is quite impossible. As a bride, the church belongs to Christ; and we are dead to everything except to Christ risen. Christ for the church can only be a heavenly Bridegroom. As a temporal and Jewish Saviour of Israel, Jesus forbids His disciples to go into the way of the Gentiles; He was a Jew and He could only acknowledge those that were Jews: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," Matt. 15:24. The church, in order to have a Christ, must have a risen Christ. The world having rejected Christ, Christ owns no fellowship with the world. The cross has put an everlasting barrier between the world, as such, and Jesus. "The world seeth me no more" (John 14:19), except as a Judge. Jesus saves a soul in separating it from the world, and communicates to that soul a life capable of enjoying the world to come where Jesus is glorified and loved.

72 The testimony rendered to Jesus can only operate in taking a soul morally out of the world, and in causing it to enter into the church. Could one have a risen Bridegroom in heaven, and an earthly bride in the earth? This is not possible. Having the life of Christ in a body that is still of the world, the Christians suffers, and sees himself fettered by this body of death. It is Christ alone, Christ risen, Christ glorified, who is the Bridegroom of the church; and a church of the world, a religion of the world, is impossible. To secure the church Christ must die; and the church cannot possess a living Christ, unless He be a risen Christ. We suffer here, because we have a risen soul in a body that is not risen, and this is in a world at enmity with God. To wish to prepare a church here on earth for the coming of Christ is to understand neither Christ nor the church. It is when the Lord God Almighty has taken to Him great power to reign, when the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride hath made herself ready, that the church knows joy. To say that Jehovah reigns now, is, in one sense, a sort of blasphemy. God does not exercise His power in direct government. Do you think that He permits sin to prosper, infidelity to lift up a high head, and that He allows that war should exercise its depredations under His own government? Does not all this prove that Satan is the prince of this world? The Lord only enters upon the exercise of His kingly power down here when the downfall of Babylon takes place.

To apply the Psalms to the present time, when they say, "The Lord reigneth," is to produce confusion. These Psalms express righteous judgment, and the desire to wash one's feet in the blood of the enemies. What connection is there in this with the spirit of the Christian? This relates to a dispensation of judgment and of righteousness, and not of grace. Grace is acting now to draw the heart, and to make it cleave to heavenly things. In the reign of Christ God will reign in righteousness; and the Spirit of Christ in the Psalms calls for justice in the time of His reign. The principles of the relations of God with men are quite different. The reign of Christ will be for the earth a time of joy; but that joy will proceed from the presence of righteousness acting upon the earth; Psalms 96, 97, 98, 99. When Jehovah takes to Him His power and reigns, He will execute justice and judgment in the earth. Do you believe that if He were actually exercising judgment, things would go on in the earth as they do now? The Lord is acting in grace now, and when He executes justice, the wicked will be cut off, and the righteous will then be able to live in peace, for he will be sustained and filled with joy. When Christians have chosen to sing the Psalms as belonging to the church, the relationship of Jehovah with Israel and those of the Father with the church have been confounded, and the church is thrown into darkness and worldliness. When all this is confounded, Jehovah is not found just, and the Father does not sanctify His people. In the Revelation we do not find the relationship of the Father with the church. So long as the church is on earth, God has not assumed the power of His kingdom.

73 In verse 7 the primary object of the love of God is to unite the church to Christ. This must take place in order that Christ may appear in glory and judge the beast. The church is not yet the wife - she is only betrothed to Christ. The Holy Spirit can never produce the glory of the church, nor celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb, because He cannot be the Bridegroom of the church. And to wish for the joy of the millennium through the Holy Spirit only, is to wish for the joy of the bride without the Bridegroom, which is a folly. There must be the personal manifestation of Jesus. The church must be risen to be with her risen Spouse.

What is actually the effect of testimony in the world? It is to raise persecution according to the power of the Holy Spirit which is put forth. If one would have it otherwise, the Lord must reign and execute justice. To wish for a millennium by the Holy Spirit is also to wish for the most violent persecution. The more the Holy Spirit acts, the hotter the persecution is.

In paradise, when God builded the woman, He presented her to Adam: this is what will happen concerning the church; Eph. 5:27. The love of Jesus for the church is something much more intimate, much higher, than the love of God for the world. He has given His life for her; He washes her by His word; He will present her to Himself glorious with the same glory that He is Himself in as risen and glorified. This will be the marriage-supper of the Lamb. The church is the bride united to Jesus in glory. She is justified, purified, and glorified. A bride in a vile body is not fit for a Bridegroom in a glorious body.

74 The Almighty taking to Him His power and reigning is still a thing to come. God only reigns now through His hidden providence. In His kingdom all shall be set in order; but He cannot make the earth and the creation happy, before that which is most precious to Christ be there for the enjoyment of it with Him. The first thing necessary to the full accomplishment of the counsels of the Father and of the love of Jesus is the resurrection of the church, and the marriage of the Lamb. Our portion is to be with Christ, and to have the enjoyment with Him of all that He inherits, and of all that He enjoys. The principle of faithfulness in the church is not to recognise nor to take anything before her heavenly Bridegroom comes. She is to live as a virgin, waiting for the return of Him to whom she is betrothed, and to keep herself in His absence from all that is unworthy of Him.

Revelation 19:11-21

In the marriage of the Lamb we see what Christ is to the church; in the judgment of the beast, what Christ is as a Judge. The violence which rises against the power of the Lamb is the object of judgment. Before this there must be the glory of Jesus with the church, and the marriage of the Lamb.

"All was created by him and for him," Col. 1:16. Everything was created for His glory; but men of the world do not think of this. Every knee shall bow before Him; He is the centre of all the thoughts and of the justice of God. Jesus made Himself of no reputation; Jesus shall be glorified. Man makes use of the humiliation of Jesus in order to despise Him; but God shall glorify Him even there where He made Himself of no reputation, and in that very form which He took, and He shall glorify Him through those for whom He did thus make Himself of no reputation.

To philosophy God is only a means man uses to extol himself; but God has been pleased to bring low the wisdom and the intelligence of man by saving, through the foolishness of preaching, all those who believe. There where the Son of man has been humbled He shall be glorified; and man must bow the knee before the Last Adam. God will have the Lord Jesus as the Lord of glory; and He will be glorified in Jesus, in rendering men submissive to Jesus as Lord. Jesus must be recognised such as God has presented Him, according to the foolishness of preaching, or one must recognise Him, without hope of mercy, when His glory shall be manifested. If one will not have a Saviour, one must have a Judge. There is no one that will not have to bow the knee to Jesus. If one does not do it now, it is ingratitude and baseness.

75 The second thought of God in His counsels is the church. As He associated Eve with Adam, so He has associated the church with Christ. We have spoken of the marriage of the Lamb, and of the church risen and glorified, united to Christ risen and glorified. It is a thing quite different from the good-will of God towards His creatures. It is an intimate relationship between the children and the Father, between the bride and the Bridegroom. The church is reckoned as being not of the world but of heaven. Her origin is from above. Besides this there are the relations of God with the world - the government of God. Man will not have Christ to govern the world; he wishes to govern it himself and exclude God out of it: "This is the heir [not the Bridegroom], come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance," Matt. 21:38.

As long as it is the accepted time, the time of salvation, man gives himself up to iniquity without restraint. He will have his own way in spite of God, and be like God. In this sense every man has the spirit of Antichrist, whom the Holy Spirit characterises by these words, "And the king shall do according to his will," Dan. 11:36. This cannot last. Man must at last be judged of Him whom he has rejected. Is heaven to govern the earth? Yes; but man says, It is I who shall govern the world, and not God.

On four different occasions God has spoken solemnly, or will, with man. God spoke with man for the first time in the garden of Eden. All relation with God had already ceased then, for man never spoke with God that he was not already condemned before God had spoken to him. The second time was on Mount Sinai. Israel, in dismay, said, "Let not God speak with us" (Ex. 20:19), for the glory of God had inspired terror in the heart of man. The third time was in Jesus, God manifested in the flesh. Man would not have God in love: hence, it became necessary to be either a Christian or an anti-Christian. The fourth time is when Jesus will come again to execute the judgment on all those who will not bow to Him as Lord. Man will be found either for Him or against Him. All those who have not received the love of the truth will be condemned.

76 Christ and the church appear in glory, and only in judgment. Heaven opens for their glorious manifestation. Man being a sinner, heaven cannot open itself to him. When Jesus was on the earth, heaven opened itself; Jesus was recognised as Son of God, and the Holy Ghost came down upon Him. Through the Holy Spirit Stephen sees heaven open; Acts 7:35. But the case is reversed. He looks into heaven and finds his portion there with Jesus, being, as He was, rejected from the earth, but identified with the glory of God. This also is the position of the whole church. At the end heaven will be opened to manifest the Son of man; and when it opens thus, it is that the Lord Jesus should come Himself and execute judgment on earth. Only when the evil forces God to notice it, does God smite it: until iniquity has come to the full (Gen. 15:16), God has long patience.

The last beast, the Roman empire revived, comes up out of the bottomless pit and goes to perdition. This is what we have brought before us. Men's passions will be inspired and excited by Satan, "whose coming," we read, "is after the working of Satan," 2 Thess. 2:9. Judas is an example of this. We do not only see in him covetousness, and the temptation of Satan presented to covetousness; but Satan taking possession of the heart, and hardening all the natural affections of a disciple towards Jesus. At that time also Satan shall harden the hearts of those of whom he shall have taken possession, even against the manifestation of all the glory of Jesus. Some natural feelings are found remaining, until Satan has taken possession of the heart; but after this man is capable of doing anything. Thus the chief priests would have killed Lazarus (John 12:10), because Jesus had raised him to life again, and because of this many of the Jews believed in Jesus, and left them; and they determined to put Jesus to death, because He had raised Lazarus from the dead; John 11:47-57.

The man of the earth lifts his head even up to heaven. Like Adam, he wishes to be as God Himself: he wishes to be so under the character of Christ, and he is Antichrist. He wants to possess the earth and make war with heaven; Isaiah 14:13, 14. Endowed with all the power of Satan, all man's faculties in exercise, inspired by Satan's energy, he assumes authority over all, and would seat himself at Jerusalem as king of all the earth, and extol himself like unto the Most High. It is then that the Son of man, who has humbled Himself, and whom God has exalted, shall come down from heaven, and the man of the earth who has exalted himself shall be abased. The question is now, and this is all the question, Whether the man of the earth is to prevail over the Man of heaven. The last beast, having seized upon the earth, and being followed by the kings of the earth, makes war with Christ. We must know whether God will be the stronger, not only in the conscience, but in the world and in glory. Jerusalem is already becoming the centre of man's thoughts in the earth, because it is there the nations are to be gathered for judgment; Zech. 12:1-3. The nations appear to be beginning to burden themselves with Jerusalem. They do so without acknowledging the rights of Christ, who is alone the true King of Jerusalem; but God shall make good the claims of Christ. The nations are labouring in the fire for very vanity (Isaiah 50:11), in order that He that has been despised may be glorified.

77 Verses 12, 13. Jesus appears. He has His essential glory, a name known to Him alone. All He does is the manifestation of what God has revealed. He will be the Word of God in judgment, and the executor of the revelation of God against sin. Now, the word is judging morally; then, it will be in reality. The white horse is a sign of victory. The sharp sword is already seen; Rev. 1:16.

Verse 15 is in allusion to Psalm 2:8, 9: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." This is what Jesus shall execute at His glorious appearing. To break the nations with a rod of iron is quite another thing from the gospel. He has the nations, not as His bride, but as His inheritance. The little stone (Dan. 2:34, 35) becomes a great mountain, filling the whole earth. The church (Rev. 2:26, 27) is made a partaker with Him in His power over the nations. Jesus has received power of His Father, not merely to secure the church, but also to break the nations, and the church shall be with Jesus. Jesus has not yet asked for the inheritance; but is praying that His own may be kept. He is the sovereign High Priest, not of the world, but of the church. We have a High Priest; Heb. 4:14, 15; chap. 8:1. The rebellious Jews shall be judged. The judgment of the world is by Jesus - such is the use of the rod of Iron which He wields.

78 It is important to see the distinction between the inheritance of the nation, and the position of the church. In Isaiah 63:1-6 Christ is revealed to us treading alone the winepress of His wrath. The blood (Rev. 14:18-20) came out even unto the horse-bridles. It is thus that this awful judgment of God is depicted unto us.

Verse 16 informs us that Jesus does not take His title of King of kings before the kingdom of the world, on the sound of the seventh trumpet being heard, becomes the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ. When political attention is attracted to Jerusalem, when things are preparing rapidly for the judgment of Christ in the earth, when this judgment is going to be executed, it is just then that the nations reject Christ and harden themselves against Him. Jesus shall appear as the Faithful, the True, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, being already the Bridegroom of the church glorified.

It is after this that the judgment of the beast will take place. This beast* is the wicked one announced to the Thessalonians, the Antichrist of Daniel. The false prophet is here found identified with the second beast. The distinction between the church glorified and the world judged is very evident in the chapter before us. Antichrist extols himself, and Christ comes only to judge him. The things which God will separate in judgment are already separated in His mind, and they are as much so now as when they will be seen, the one in the lake of fire, and the other in heaven. The judgment shall merely manifest this to the world. There are three characters of the beast and of Satan's power.

{*I leave this in the text as it is, but I have made some researches in the word, which make me hesitate a little as to this phrase, as regards the special relationships of the two beasts in Revelation 13 and their connection with other passages. However that may be, the two beasts perish together, and the second beast supports the first. What I am doubtful of is, whether some passages which, in general, are applied to the first beast, would not rather apply to the second. See paper in this Volume, "Enquiry into the Antichrist of Prophecy."}

79 Firstly, the Roman empire in its eighth head, the chief of the last form of the beast at the time of the Gentiles. Secondly. This chief does his own will, and will establish his throne at Jerusalem. Thirdly. He is the wicked one; iniquity has reached to the full. The false prophet is the second beast in chapter 13, which had horns like the lamb and spoke like the dragon. Babylon has disappeared from the scene.

Verse 17. The supper of the great God is a very strong figure of the destruction of kings, captains, powers, of horses and their riders, of freemen, slaves, of small and great, and of all those, in short, whose bodies are given to the birds of prey. The angel, standing in the sun, acts in the power and supreme authority of God, in judgment against him who stands in opposition to God. Daniel 7:7, 8 shews to us the fourth beast, the fourth monarchy, as a blasphemous power, which God judges and totally destroys. The description of this destruction is given to us in the Revelation.

Daniel 7:17, 18. The saints of the Most High not only take the place of authority, instead of the beast which uttered great things against God, but also that of the four beasts. In verse 21 the horn which uttered great things makes war with the saints. But, if God permits the beast to overcome the saints, it is until Christ, the Ancient of days, comes, until judgment be given to the saints of the Most High, and until they obtain the kingdom. What puts an end to the authority of the beast is the coming of the Ancient of days, and not the preaching of the gospel. This is the character of the beast and its end.

In the Revelation and in Daniel there are ten kingdoms.* The beast has a mortal wound, but comes out of the bottomless pit. The ten kings give their power to it, and the dragon his throne; but it goes into perdition. The kings associate themselves with it, and this satanical power, which at all times has overcome the saints, and which has been set up again, goes to perdition. It is the apostasy and antagonism of power against God. The eighth head is the beast. All its power is concentrated in the head, in the chief of the Roman empire. This is not yet manifested. Antichrist, who is the chief of the iniquity of the human heart, fills up the measure of the rebellion of the Gentiles, to whom God had entrusted power when He removed His throne from Jerusalem, at the time of the Babylonish captivity. Instead of glorifying God in His kingdom, man rejects Jesus, and in the end is found making war against Jesus.

{*But in Daniel we have the details of the history, and, consequently, three horns fall before the little one. Whereas in the Revelation this is omitted, for there we have rather what characterises the beasts, than their history on the earth.}

80 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In verse 3 Antichrist is the son of perdition. He goes to perdition. Antichrist, the wicked one, has brought the iniquity of man to its height. To have sinned against God, violated the law, and rejected Jesus, although nothing morally was wanting to the sin of man - all this was not yet the height of iniquity. The mystery of iniquity is that evil which acts in a hidden manner in the bosom of the church, as a germ destined to grow until the revolt - a revolt which will pursue its course till it rises up openly against Christ manifested in glory. While men were slumbering, the enemy has sown the tares. The mystery of iniquity, which had already begun at the time of the apostle, ends in the revolt of Christianity, the professing church. God does not judge what is only yet in a state of mystery. The mystery is that which is known only by its revelation, and without this it remains hidden to all human intelligence. It is the same also with the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, and with the mystery of the union of Christ and the church. What a mystery of iniquity it is, that the church should have been made the nest where Satan has begun and brought forth the fulness of the iniquity of man! Jude wished to write of the salvation common to them, but he could not. The evil had begun, and he urges them to contend earnestly for what they had. The evil had begun. He warns them, "for certain men have crept in among you unawares, who have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness," and who end in denying the Lord Jesus. Those were the same of whom Enoch had prophesied. It is to deny the Saviour recognised according to the testimony given by the Holy Ghost, and to revolt against Him:* this will be the fulness of iniquity; after that comes the judgment.

{*The final apostasy, or the revolt, will at the same time go still farther; it will be the denial of the Lord thus known (as outward profession); the denial of the Messiah by the Jews, who will give themselves up to Antichrist; and of God by man, who will extol himself in pride against Him. It will be the full result of the work of Satan, the corruption of the church, or the substitution of his works to the church, in borrowing her name, and his master-piece in subtlety and artifice.}

81 To the Thessalonians Paul explains the progress of the mystery of iniquity, until that which is now an obstacle to it be taken away. When this is taken out of the way, then shall the wicked by revealed. He is the representative of the iniquity, and he will be manifested when that which restrains iniquity shall be taken away. His character is to be without law, to do his own will, man's will. The word rendered by "the wicked one" signifies "he that is without law." Christ, the Man of God, says, "Lo, I come, O God, to do thy will," Psalm 40:7, 8; Heb. 10. He has been a servant in everything. He gives the kingdom to those for whom the Father has prepared it. His only will was to do the will of God. "Not my will, but thy will." "By the obedience of one many are made righteous," Rom. 5:19. He has not in anything done His own will.

What characterises this age, and what this age is boasting of, is the right of doing its own will. It is also what characterised the sin of Adam, before evil concupiscences came into the world. The character of Christ, the elect King of God, is obedience. "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do," John 14:31. Jesus was obedient unto death. The power of God was thus acting in Him, to render Him, notwithstanding the difficulties, so obedient as to make Himself of no reputation in the sight of God, and to do all things for God. The character of the wicked is to be without law, to do his own will. Then comes the contest between the Man of God and the man of the earth, to know who is to succeed. The principle of evil is to have a will. For a long time God restrains and confines the evil. When He takes away that which now letteth, then shall the wicked, who does his own will, manifest and exalt himself even against the manifestation of the glory, as he did exalt himself in the mystery of iniquity; so now against the manifestation of grace, as well as when Jesus was here below. There is no independence for man; he must be either subject to God, or subject to Satan. He alone is independent who can secure himself from death. God permits Satan to act with efficacy. They would do their own will. They will work signs, wonders, and miracles of falsehood. The wicked one will be the expression of the iniquity of man without restraint, who will have no law. He will put himself under the influence and bondage of Satan, who will give him all his power. It is in its full power the principle of the first Adam, but with a decided will, knowing it and wishing it, and acting after the thoughts and according to the power which Satan inspires him with. The question is, Who is to succeed, the Man of God, or the man of the earth who will do his own will?

82 Daniel 11:36, 45, shews to us that Antichrist, the king, shall do according to his will. As king, he will reign over the Jews at Jerusalem. He shall exalt and magnify himself above every god; he shall speak marvellous things, and shall prosper till the indignation against the Jews be accomplished. He will be king at Jerusalem, the chief or the head* of the beast; in him iniquity has come to its full. Afterwards, he is destroyed This is the end of the times of the Gentiles. The beast and the false prophet are, before all the others, thrown into the lake of fire and of brimstone. It is, at least as to them, the judgment of the living. The beast, as Antichrist,** denies the Father and the Son; 1 John 2:22. He denies Jesus Christ come in the flesh, and he denies that Jesus is the Messiah. It will be through this last means that he will attach to himself the infidel Jews. He denies Christ come in the flesh, and he gives himself for the Christ [i.e., presents himself as Messiah].

{*[Rather, in league with the beast or imperial power of Rome in that day. - ED.] See footnote page 78.}

{**While associated together in their work, some question would arise in my own mind here as to the repartition of the work between the two beasts. See note page 78.}

The false prophet (v. 20) is the second beast of chapter 13:12. He has the form of the power of Christ, and the voice of Satan. He performs prodigies. (Compare chap. 19:20 with chap. 13:12-14.) These passages shew the identity of the second beast with the false prophet.

This character of the beast is that of an empire. In losing its character of beast, it ceases to be a secular power, and becomes a power only through its doctrine. It exercises the power of the beast, and causes it to be adored. It is judged as a false prophet. We see in this false Christianity,* which, after having lost its worldly and terrestrial dominion, has retained the power of its doctrinal influence. The temporal power of popery (or rather of hierarchy, including the pope) is, to a certain extent, destroyed; but it subsists as false prophet, and it always is more evidently this and with more influence.

{*I do not alter anything here, because I do not doubt of its being true; but the relations of the second beast with the state of Palestine in the last days are not mentioned here.}