Thoughts on the Revelation

J. N. Darby.

<30030E> {file section b.}

351 We now come to the government of the world. The failure of the church as a professing outward body, founded on human responsibility (for as built by Christ for His glory, it never can, but this is in heaven in purpose, and judgment certainly does come in this world), had left only this, and brought in necessarily the intervention of God in judgment.

The prophet is called up to heaven; for no government of God was yet manifested on the earth, and the church was no longer owned as witness; and the first voice which he had heard as a trumpet, the voice of the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the voice of Him who was behind him in the midst of the golden candlesticks, now called him up to where His power and activity was to display itself - the Ancient of days, whom we shall now first have to see on the throne; but whom we shall also perceive as a distinct person as the Lamb. We have a throne in heaven, instead of candlesticks upon the earth. In the "things after these," or hereafter, we find evidently the last part of the verse which gives the division of the book; and, whether translated "after these" or "hereafter," the sense is the same; as the preceding things were "the things that are." The judgment of Daniel 7 is here largely developed. The jasper is divine display. I go no farther. It is not essential nature, though this be what is displayed; but display of divine glory in government and judgment - what secures and protects from evil. I say this merely from its use, not from any notion as to the stone. (Compare Rev. 21:18, 19, and 11.) It characterises divine display thus in the book. The rainbow is covenant with creation. The throne thus gives the government which secures from evil and blesses creation. The saints, kings and priests, are seen in glory, enthroned and crowned as kings here (in the next chapter, priests), and decked with the ornament of righteousnesses in life. The throne was one of majesty and judgment (not of grace) Sinai-like, and before it the perfection of attributive power; the seven Spirits of God were seen. And that which erst was the means of feet-washing, and cleansing before judgment came in, was now solid purity on which cleansed ones could walk and find no uncleanness to take up. The cherubim (four not two, completeness, not witness) were in the midst of the throne and around it, characterised it in its inward nature, and surrounded* it with what was their peculiar character. That character is judicial power, as I have elsewhere remarked, and as all the cases, in which they appear, shew.

{*Around and round are different in Greek. The first gives the idea of distinct objects surrounding; the other, what is round anything, not necessarily distinct, but viewed from it and connected with it as a centre. In chapter 7:11, it is around.}

352 But the details shew other elements in their attributions here. They are heads of the four parts of created existence on the earth. They have this under their power as their attribution, so to speak; man, beasts of the field, cattle, and fowls of the air - not of the sea; every one characterised by rapidity of flight, and power of inward perception. In verse 8 their service is referred to, and the eyes are within; this characterised their intelligence, its nature: a figure easy to comprehend. We know more or less what it is to have within us a clear perception of what is, of the nature and motives of what is, around us. These were full of eyes before and behind; they saw all things on every side. The administrative knowledge of the throne was not a partial knowledge. It was not a mere outward knowledge of circumstances which governed. The eyes were within. God, in His Old Testament characters - Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai - God, the Supreme Governor, and God once of promise, always of fulfilment, and the Great King over all the earth, the Creator who faints not, neither is weary, was unceasingly celebrated by the administration of His power in providence and creation. But they do this in a peculiar character - Holy! holy! holy - in that character, which allows no evil to be near it, but will be sanctified in all that were nigh to Him. But this is celebration, not worship. The elders fall down and worship. Nor only so; they give and that characterises in general the worship of the elders - they give motives and reasons for it. It is intelligent reasonable worship. They worship Him that sits on the throne, Him who has title over creation, by whom and for whom all things were created: "For thy will they were and have been created."

353 Redemption is not yet touched on. I have largely noticed elsewhere, but must not here pass over, the exquisitely beautiful character of the moral state and position of the elders. When the throne of judgment is set, they are on thrones. The lightnings, and thunderings, and voices left them in unmoved peace. Why should they not? Their place was the witness and result of divine righteousness in which they sat there, which had crowned them; and the exercise of this judgment left them necessarily in the peace it gave. But when He who sat on the throne was celebrated, then they were all activity. They leave their thrones, they cast down their crowns, ascribing all glory to Him who alone was worthy. He that sits on the throne is Christ, but viewed as Jehovah, and sitting as such, not as a distinct person seen apart from Godhead, nor as a Son with the Father in Godhead; but the Jehovah of the Old Testament revealed in the Son. It will be remarked, there is no manifestation of angels here.

We may remark here, that the whole scenery is taken from the temple, a remark which aids in the intelligence of the structure of the book, only it is changed in several particulars, and, though permanent, answers in some details more to the tabernacle - the shadow of heavenly things.

In the right hand of power of Him that sat on the throne was a book, the unfolding of the counsels and purposes of God, according to His power. It was filled with these, but perfectly sealed up. The personal glory of the Opener is brought into evidence by the inquiry, who could unfold and give effect to them. None anywhere could be found; but the heavenly elders have intelligence of the ways and mind of God. Christ can. He is spoken of in His Jewish character, but in the way of divine power - the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the source of promise, and the Mighty One to prevail; but, after all, it was redemption, and suffering for the glory of God, which had given Him the title. Blessed thought! The prophet must see a Lamb as it had been slain. Full power and competency to execute it according to the perfection of God's attributes were in Him - seven horns and seven eyes. He was the centre of all that expressed divine power and its displays and results - the throne, the beasts, and the elders.

354 The beasts and elders are distinguished here. The Lamb was in the midst of the throne and the beasts; and in the midst of the elders. That is, the power of government, providence and creation, whoever instrumentally wielded it; and in the midst of the crowned and enthroned company, who were as added heirs to this, the redeemed kingdom of priests. The seven Spirits which were before the throne, part of God's glory on it, are seen in the Lamb, but as sent forth to accomplish the divine purposes in all the earth under the Lamb's authority. He comes, and takes the book. Now redemption is celebrated. I would here make some remarks, as regards the beasts and elders, not with the certainty of teaching but submitting them to inquiry, in which state they stand in my own mind, though the inquiry be based on elements settled in my own mind'.

In Revelation 4 creation and providential power were brought before us as such, and no angels. Here also redemption and the angels are seen. Further, in this whole book (indeed in all scripture), the cherubic animals hold the place of judicial power, and administer it providentially. The elders everywhere have divine intelligence of the motives for praise. This belongs to the saints as such, and indeed especially to Christians, who have an unction from the Holy One and know all things, but to the saints as such. The administration of governmental and judicial power is not exclusively theirs. They get it in consequence of redemption. Further, in chapter 4, the beasts celebrate the glory of Him that sits on the throne - announce His character - the elders only worship thereupon. The angels are not seen. I have supposed then that, redemption not being yet manifested, the administrative power is not viewed as taken out of the hands of the angels, for we know that the world to come is not subjected to them. Creation and all its glory is seen as such, the living creatures are not yet the saints; and the angels are not seen apart from that glory of which they have been the heads. When the Lamb is manifested, those associated with Him must take the first place as connected with Him, and the angels delight in it. This we have in Revelation 5. Redemption brings in the reign of man in Christ. (Compare Eph. 1:20-23 and 1 Peter 3:22.) The Lamb being now manifested as Redeemer, this also is manifested. The beasts* worship with the elders, are now associated, and the angels are seen, as such, apart. As we go on to the farther parts of the book, we shall see that the beasts recede, and the elders take the first place.

{*Verse 8 may very well be read as if "having harps applied to the elders only. Very competent judges so understand it but in chapter 19:4, at any rate, the four beasts fall down and worship. Verse 9 should be "they sing."}

355 Here, the beasts and elders, the heavenly saints, I apprehend, in their double character of heads of creation, and kings and priests, exercise distinctly the office of priests, not in interceding, but in offering up the prayers of the saints. The intelligence of the elders, the saints, viewed in this character of priests brought near to God, whose lips keep knowledge, celebrate the Lamb as worthy to take the book, and open the seals, and why He is so; namely, that He has gone through death and wrought redemption - redeemed to God. I suppose the "us" is justly rejected. It is not who are redeemed that makes Him worthy; but that He has redeemed people to God out of every nation, and made them kings and priests, and that they will reign. It is His work, and its effect and character, that make Him worthy. Who should open that book of the kingdom, or the ways of God in bringing it in, but He who had brought it into existence and all in it, by sacrificing Himself? And here the angels come in with willing chorus in a beautiful way, owning the effect of this work, and standing farther off, but in the best of places since it was the one that owned and gave glory to the Lamb in His work. They stood in a circle around the throne and the beasts and the elders. So every creature joined in the chorus. And the four beasts say "Amen" to the creature. It was their place. The twenty-four elders fall down and worship. This is their own worship. It is more than the "Amen" of the beasts to the praise of the creation. This, though we have made progress as to the facts in the prophetic history (for the book has been now taken by the Lamb in order to open it), yet gives an anticipative expression to universal praise. John hears it prophetically. The twenty-four elders and beasts made part of the subsisting glory from which all was to follow - crowned and enthroned before there was any history.

356 For the history to begin, the Lamb must take the book. This is all-important as to the saint's place when the Lamb takes the book. To the prophetic eye and ear the angels fall into their natural place in the kingdom; and then his ear hears the voice (as Paul's before the groans of every creature everywhere) celebrating the glory of Him that was on the throne, and of the Lamb. Seen they could not be yet thus; but it was, so to speak, the natural result of that which was now taking effect. Many a groan would go up, and many a sorrow be felt, But the book the Lamb had taken, the elders were manifested in their redemption-place, the angels joyful in that which redemption gave them; the Lamb not yet indeed seen as having taken His kingdom on earth, but His title to it loudly proclaimed above by those who knew and were the firstfruits of it, and the ways ready to be unfolded which led to it. The voice of the result is prophetically heard, and, as heads of government and creation, the beasts say, "Amen." The voice is true and right. As elders, the saints worship Him that never fails in promise, but makes good in immutable nature what He has purposed in grace. It is not "him on the throne here; the creatures were not yet in actual relation with it but He lives to make all good.

All this is introduction; to put all in their places for the kingdom and ways of God - creation and redemption each having its due glory. And now the history itself will begin. As yet the beasts are in the foreground - providential dealings; the (to man) hidden ways of God are going on. The Lamb opened one of the seals. And one of the four beasts, these leaders of the governmental ways of God, of His judicial power, speaks with thunder. It is known that many leave out "and see." Should they remain, it is clearly a call to John; but I hardly see why it should be a voice of thunder. The idea that it is the voice of creation looking to Jesus to come seems to me wholly out of the way. The groaning creation, or longing creation, does not speak in thunder. It seems to me more naturally as the expression of God's thunder and power - a call to the horses to come forth. The reading must first be determined, of course; but if this be right, it is not without importance, as settling what I have, at the same time, never doubted, without any such ground, that the four horses have the same character. The horse is always the action of divine power, gone forth into the earth, accomplishing, whatever the agent may be, divine purpose and providence. A white horse characterises triumph, as is well known: such is the white horse here, triumphant conquest. The next is a state of war and conflict which takes peace from the earth. In the third God calls for famine on the earth; in the last, all His four sore plagues (Ezekiel 14:21). It is not special dealings with a revealed antagonistic state, which are presented to us. It is history, history of the condition of the earth, the special scene of God's dealings, where He has been made known, but where man does not care about God, or perhaps favours His enemies, and persecutes His people. God deals with them, and, though at first all seems fair and prosperous in his hands where active power is, the judgments of God soon reach the scene. For the force of horses as a symbol see Zechariah 1 and 6, and Revelation 19. It will be seen in all these cases, that it indicates a matter of public general dealing of God, something that characterises the state of men and God's dealing with them.

357 The opening of the seal brings no longer the cry of the beasts. John sees those who had been martyred among men, had offered up their lives for God's word and for testimony which they held. Hence they were seen under the altar. They looked not for peace themselves, but for judgment on the earth. We are here not in the gospel scene or spirit of things, but of the throne of judgment and government, as we see in the Psalms, The time for executing judgment and avenging their blood was soon coming, but not yet come. Their faithfulness was owned. White robes were given them, the witness of accepted practical righteousness, the witness of its acceptance before others; but they must rest a little while. Others must yet suffer in the last days. God has begun to deal with the earth; but the last scenes are not yet come.

But another character given of God to men here comes in view, already prophetically introduced in the promise to Philadelphia - "them that dwell on earth." They are settled, and have their habitation there. It is not necessary to be of the church, in order not to have this character. It is true of the church; but in Daniel 7 also we have saints of the high places. And before Daniel Abraham "looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God." He declared plainly that he sought a country, that is, an heavenly, so that God was not ashamed to be called his God. So it was with him, who could say for himself and others, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with Thee, as all my fathers were." It may be that the very departure of the church may have stamped this character of saints of the high places on many that are left behind. At any rate those who have been slain for their testimony easily know the settled worldly character of those who had slain them, how they had the earth for their place and name.

358 Remark, that we have no time or date as yet here, only there is but a little season to follow. How long the horses have been pursuing their career in accomplishing God's will, since the book was opened, is left wholly untold; only they were, when the church was present and owned of God, future things. How the witness is given to them, the white robes, is not said. The cry is for vengeance on others, not for blessing on themselves. If it be not resurrection, there is no reason why even those of the church and all saints martyred for God's word may not be there. I apprehend it is since the church's rapture. The date of the passage is wholly forward, there is none as to the time they were martyred. There is - as to getting the white robes, and evidently confirmed by what follows - an intimation of the closing - in of God's ways. They are going to become direct, with revealed (yea evident) causes of judgment, not providential.

The next thing is a general break-up of all established authority, and general confusion; everything that seemed stable on the earth ruined and broken up, so as to produce bitter terror in the minds of men. But the end was not yet. They think it is the day of the Lamb's wrath, and of Him that sat on the throne. The martyred saints knew that others were to be slain; but men had a bad conscience, and they feared the judgment of the throne and of the Lamb. I think this marks conscious enmity to them too. It is hardly a state of superstitious service; while the character of their fear seems to intimate that it is the fear of them that dwell on the earth, when Christianity, the profession of the knowledge of the Father and the Son is gone, and is known in conscience to have been rejected. The throne they had to do with, and the Lamb, speak of wrath to them, not worship. Why so? We are here surely in another scene of things where this is on the conscience when it awakes through fear.

359 If the great day of His wrath was not come, the harbingers in rapid and terrible succession were soon to break in on the unrepentant earth; but meanwhile God must have and secure a people through them all. This securing of His people is what chapter 7 sets before us - the servants of His power holding the elements ready to devastate the earth. But another servant of God from the rising of the sun, I suppose in connection with the blessing of Messiah, the light of God in the midst of Israel (Luke 1:77-79), who has authority over the four prepared to hurt the earth and the sea, charges them to hold back the elements of destruction, till the servants of God are sealed. I have little doubt this intimates Christ (though in a new character, and in connection with the earthly people) and the saints. He holds the sea] of the living God. Of course He alone could; but the saints are associated with Him. He says, "till we have sealed the servants of our God." He cannot now be separated, in the accomplishment of God's ways, from the heavenly saints. Not that this is yet manifested, but is here revealed for the intelligence of faith. What is preparing is the gathering of all things in one in Him, as Head, the heavenly saints at least. The church, all save those exceptionally to be killed in the last tribulation, are gathered to Him. His own proper heavenly company are there. And He intimates their association with Himself, and must now provide, according to the will of God, for the people of the saints of the Most High. He does not yet come to secure their bodies, but to mark them irrevocably for God. His elect people in Israel. Trouble of every kind might come, but they were marked for God. In general indeed even temporal security is here assured. (Compare Rev. 9:4.)

In the special tribulations of the last day, I do not see that God's servants in Israel are slain.* At any rate, in the plagues immediately coming here, being judgments, the sealed saints are not the objects of them. (See chap. 9:4-6 and 20, 21.) I speak here of Israel, for with that we are occupied. The woes are on the inhabitants of the earth, the opposite exactly of the sealed ones. This sealing is a usual thing from the time of Christ's coming, when righteousness existed which could be sealed. He was sealed by God, the Father. This was the Holy Spirit. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, He being our righteousness on high. But this is in association with heaven; though Christ was as yet associated with earth. It is the living God whose seal it is here; not exactly the seal or promise of the Father, but that their sure part is from the living God in connection with the dayspring rising on the earth. The elect number of the twelve tribes is sealed - the 1000 x 12 x 12.

{*Psalm 79 gives the case of terrible slaughter in and around Jerusalem by the heathen; of the application of which I am not sure. It is not, I think, certainly, the beast who is there active. Nor am I quite sure they are real saints, and not the saints, taking all in as a holy people, though as a nation they are said to be al chesed (not holy). In Daniel 7, "given into his hand" refers to times and laws, not to the saints. The beast prevails against them, but they flee as a body and are preserved.}

360 But there are others who are characterised as Gentiles. The associations and character are quite different here, and partly in connection with this point, of their going through the tribulation; and it leads to a remark, which facilitates the apprehension of the order and contents of this part of this book. We have, to the end of chapter 9, three distinct classes of persons; the sealed 144,000 of Israel, the multitude who praise God in white robes, and the dwellers on the earth, men who are not sealed. If we take out the white-robed multitude (Rev. 7:9-17), the rest is angelic care and judgment. All is in angelic hands. We come down to providential secret care, and God's ways by outward means, of which we may have the secret here, but which are providential. Nor is anything seen of the Lamb. Indeed this is the case as regards His being in the scene, though with a very special revelation of the beast, and we are in Israel, and do not find the Lamb again, till Revelation 14 - a chapter which gives the scenes of God's ways. It is not that the dealings of Rev. 7:1-8, and Rev. 8, and Rev. 10-12 are the same; but they are the same in this, that we are in angelic scenes, and Jerusalem and Israel is everywhere the centre, though the oppressing power might be Gentile. I do not think chapter 13 an exception to what I have said. The Lamb is not in the scene, only the names are written in His book before the foundation of the world. Those saved and spared could not be in any other way, or on any other account. But we shall see all this more clearly in following the different facts of the chapters.

361 Revelation 12:10, 11, is a confirmation of what I mean. It is the celebration in heaven of what took place at another time.*

{*The truth is, this goes farther, when duly weighed, than at first sight appears. We have no action of the Lamb from the opening of the book.}

I return to Revelation 7:9. It is entirely a distinct vision from what precedes. The difference, I apprehend, in their character, is this. The vision of the 144,000 sealed ones is their being marked by God, so as to secure them for Himself in grace through the coming trials. It is wholly prospective; they are there marked for this. The vision of the Gentile multitude is prospective too, but they are seen simply in the result coming out of the trial, so that no time of commencement is set. Whenever the time of tribulation began, those who were in it are found here. The slain ones have been seen (Rev. 6:9). It may be, that this tribulation begins with the universal break-up of the end of chapter 6; but it may have gone on in the previous seals for aught that is said directly, as far as I am aware. Doubtless it continues afterwards in the following chapters. At all events those seen in the vision belong to the time of tribulation.

We have now to consider a little more closely their character. In Revelation 14 the 144,000 are with the Lamb - those of Israel, I apprehend, who have passed through circumstances analogous to those through which Christ passed in Israel, and are associated with Him in His Israelitish royalty on Mount Zion - the remnant of the Psalms. The white-robed multitude are before the throne; they have suffered for Christ more than the Jewish remnant, but are not associated with any special place of His. They have overcome. Their conduct is fully owned as righteous. Their relationship is with God who sits on the throne., and the Lamb - that is, the God of power and deliverance of the earth, the Judge after the church is gone; they stood before the throne. They are not sitting on thrones around it, nor even standing around it, making part of the heavenly circle. This the angels did, though the outer circle. They stood around the throne, the elders (who have here the first place), and the beasts; and these worship God, falling on their faces before Him. It was now in truth a new scene and display of God's working, and there must be new worship. When the Lamb was revealed, these celebrate His praise. Now they praise the God whose glory they own, and who is about to make it good on the earth. The intelligent church has now, as such, the first place. The immediate activity will be in what has the character of being creation's providential power. But another interesting element is found here. He who has the Spirit on earth is associated in intelligence with the heavenly saints, only He receives it here prophetically; that is, not by the presence of the Holy Ghost, the unction by which we know all things. That is the elders' part - the church of glory as such; but it is communicated to the prophet according to the intelligence of these, and they are interested in the christian prophet's knowing it. One of the elders says to him, "Who are these?" and the prophet says, "Thou knowest." The intelligence of the Spirit is ever found with the elders.

362 Another point is brought to light by this intercourse between the prophet and those who represent the church as such on high. The white-robed multitude are entirely another class. They are not the church on high. They are not those who, in the time of millennial peace, knew nothing but its enjoyment. They have passed through the time of trial in the time when the throne was now set; but the Lamb was in the midst of it, and had not yet come to exercise judgment on the earth, to put down oppression, and to claim His rights in power. Hence they have a special place - a place, even in the time of blessing, in connection with their faith in the time of trial; and this is, I suppose, the general order of God's ways. They are manifestly redeemed - those who belong altogether to the millennial time, yet exposed to trial; then, having gone by grace faithfully through the trial, they are manifestly, and manifested as, sheep. Their robes are white, washed in the blood of the Lamb. They are publicly owned as redeemed and approved, as in Matthew 25. This is a very great and distinctive privilege, though they are not in heaven. They serve the God to whom the throne belongs, always in full access to His presence in His temple. In heaven there is no temple; but they have association with the true temple. Christ has not come again, and received them to Himself where He is in the Father's house; but they stand in the presence of God, as on the throne, in full acknowledgement and blessing, and always. They have a fixed, and blessed, and acknowledged place, which even the saints of the millennial time have not. He that sits on the throne tabernacles over them, as over Israel once, in the revelation of His presence (not "dwells among" them), and they are for ever secured by His own care from all trial and evil. The Lamb shall feed them, and lead them to fresh springs of living waters. God shall remove every remembrance and trace of sorrow; for they have had sorrow for Him, though surely to their own blessing and gain. Still God owns it. The suffering for Christ (in whatever time or circumstance it may be, Old Testament saints or these) always implies participation in redemption and special privilege, though the peculiar relationships may be different for the various displays of God's glory, and blessing from His hand. So it is with the white-robed multitude. God's state is various.

363 The unfolding of God's ways on the earth is now prophetically proceeded with; and we return with it into angelic or providential dealing, though, as carried out by angels, of more distinct and direct judgment. The seventh seal is opened (chap. 8). There was a lull for a time. No open dealings to call men's or the prophet's attention; a short lapse of quiet. But God's ways are preparing in secret (revealed to the prophet). The seven ministers of God's power stood before him, and seven trumpets, loud announcements of the interference of God, were given to them. But this intervention follows on what goes on below. The great High Priest - still here seen as an angel - comes and stands at the altar (of incense), and gives efficacy to the cry of the saints who suffered on earth; but He was the minister of power; not here as sounding the trumpet, or as sent, but as giving the answer in judgment to the cry of suffering. He casts the fire of judgment on the earth; and the signs of God's terror and judgment, and actual convulsions on earth, follow.

But specific judgments were ready to follow; and the seven angels prepare to sound. Such is the connection of the ways and dealings of God with the saints. All is prepared for judgment; but as they, however feeble, represent God on the earth, the wickedness of the wicked, which must be judged, is directed against them, and their cry brings the judgment, being offered up by Christ according to the efficacy of the incense He can add to it.

364 Remark here, that when the saints (Rev. 5:8) act as priests, they add no incense at all - privilege enough to have such a place, but they can add nothing. The odours are the saints' own prayers on earth. Here (Rev. 8:3) the Angel - High Priest adds much incense to give efficacy to the cry of the saints.

I have nothing very distinct to communicate to my reader on the character of the judgments, revealed as coming on the earth in this chapter. Our best plan is to follow the symbols as a language. I apprehend it is in the western Roman earth. Revelation 9 is not, but in the east. At least the seat of the prophetic agents is there. It is not a mere state of things under God's providential ordering as in the early seals, but positive judgments inflicted in a public way by signal historical facts. On the other hand, the working of these on men is indirect; in the woe trumpets direct - on "the inhabiters of the earth." Hall is judgment, what I may call violent stormy judgment: fire is judgment in general, but in its penetrating character discovering and reaching evil. The judgment here had this double character. Both were mingled with blood. I am not quite so sure what this symbol means, but in general it seems to me to be death, not in the sense of being simply killed outwardly, but of the power of death, death in a moral way, the spirit of death in a shocking and revolting way, death as connected with sin as its character and cause. It was the power of death working as evil in man.

The outward effect of the judgment was the destruction of the great in the western earth, of what was elevated in dignity, and the universal destruction of prosperity. The second angel brings a great mountain burning with fire into the sea. A mountain is great established power. This is cast, but in the way and with the effect of heart - discriminating judgment (it burned with fire), into the mass of people, and they are filled with, brought into, a state characterised by this deathful power of evil. They become blood. All however did not die everywhere among the peoples, but it reached, in the wide expanse, to A hat answered to the extent of the seat of the evil. I suppose "dying" here to be departure from the profession of association with God, public separation from Him or apotsasy.

The next is a great star falls from heaven, a mighty though subordinate authority, which should have been the means of light and order from on high, a star (not the sun, but who loses his place, is apostate from his place of connection with God as such; and this with mighty and ardent brightness and heat, and falls on the sources of popular moral existence. It was bitterness itself, and exercised the influence of what it was upon the spirit of the people, so that they were completely animated by it. They became wormwood; and it brought death too; it was destruction and ruin to individuals from the way it worked according to its own nature in them.

365 In the fourth trumpet sovereign authority is smitten, and all dependent on or subordinate to it, which cease to regulate the order of the human course of things within the sphere assigned to these plagues, of which I have already spoken. I suppose the third part to be the Roman earth (west,, because the dragon with seven heads and ten horns sweeps the third part of the stars, and they are cast to the earth - they lose their place of connection with God, carried away by Satan's power. Not only the public course of things; - as cast into confusion and darkness - the day in sunlight darkened; but the more private and hidden life of man lost the light that guided it. There was darkness and stumbling, no perception of God's will, and no way or light to walk by, which the human understanding (faculty of seeing) could profit by.*

{*The four trumpets, remark, affect all parts of the symbolic creation - the verdure of the earth, the sea, the fountains and rivers, and the celestial bodies.}

The last trumpet or woes are to fall on the inhabiters of the earth, those attached to this world and its course, not on the state and circumstances of the Roman empire. The two first trumpets must first occupy us, as they are spoken of apart. A word on the structure of this part of the book is necessary. The course of the prophecy passes over evidence from the end of Revelation 9 to Revelation 11:15, and this part closes at the end of verse 18. Revelation 10, 11, to the end of verse 14, form a parenthetic portion, the communication of the little book. We have, from Revelation 11:19, the fully revealed final dealings of God, and the evil in respect of which He so deals; the resolving of the great question, whether Christ and the saints with Him, or Satan and the powers under his control, are to have the upper hand in this scene of the conflict between good and evil.

The first of the woe-trumpets brings forth a peculiar power of Satanic evil; the second, a more earthly distress, though both were woe. When the fifth angel sounds, one who rules, or should rule, on high, becomes apostate, loses his place of connection with God, as such, and becomes the instrument of letting loose the power of Satan; he has the key of the bottomless pit. Sovereign authority was obscured, and the whole atmosphere of men's mind darkened, and in confusion. Out of this the destructive activity of evil was let loose upon the earth. Its instruments were deadly and tormenting to men. Yet they did not affect the general prosperity, nor the grandeur of those that were exalted, but those who were not sealed with the sealing of Revelation 7. But the object of this judgment was not to put to death, but such, as that death would be a refuge from the torment that these instruments of Satan's malice and God's judgment inflicted on men; men who, servants of Satan and the world for their lusts, were now so to their pain and grief. Those who were not openly God's servants were subject to it.

366 We are here, I doubt not, in the East, and I suppose especially in Canaan and in Israel. This was the woe. But identifying characters are given of the instruments of torment. The general idea is warlike instruments of God's providential power in the earth - horses prepared for battle ravaging as to devouring power, but not independent (their hair was woman's hair), though in appearance they came in their own strength and intelligence. They swept with violence forward, as a rush of chariots of many horses. But whatever outward character they had, there was one definite and distinct - they were directly led by the power of darkness, the angel of the bottomless pit, the destroyer. It was God's judgment by outward means, but by Satan's power on the ungodly on the earth, who sought their portion in it. Men might persecute the saints, and would grievously, the Lord using it for blessing. But His hand would be now upon the ungodly, not yet in final judgment, but a witness of His penal anger against wickedness. The stings in the tails seem to me principles and doctrines which they disseminated and left behind them.

The second woe was of a more outward character; not devoid of Satanic power, but not so directly so. It was not so absolutely characterised by its subtlety and power. There was more brutish violence; men were killed by them. Still the men mounted on the horses were far less important than the horses themselves. Men, though instruments, did far less than the orderings of God's spirit in providence, and His ways on the earth. Fire and brimstone are, no doubt, judgment, but not by the word, nor by chastenings or actings of God in the earth on men. The lake of fire burns with fire and brimstone. It is God's judgment, inflicted but having in its own nature a consuming power of evil. Scorpion - work was poisonous, the devil's tormenting mischief, a terrible judgment too, to be exposed to it; but this had the character of human violence and hellish misery and ruin. It seems to come on members of the Roman world, though its action be from, and especially in, the East. The destructive power of judicial evil was connected with what they announced before them. They killed by that which they proclaimed, where it reached. It cost people their lives. But they had, besides, mischievous teachings, teachings concentrated in a power by which they did mischief on the earth - they had heads on their tails. Their defence was from hell and its power - their breastplates were fire and brimstone. It was hell's destructive power, as God's judgments before. It was the serpent's mischief behind, but concentrated in a head of power. But no repentance was wrought. Put men, so to speak, in hell's hands, they do not repent. Idolatry and wickedness, wrong against God and man, still characterised them.

367 I would remark, that the objects of the first woe were the unsealed ones, which carries us, in effect, eastward to Israel. The point of departure of the second was the East, its objects the inhabiters of the Roman earth. Thus the whole Roman world has been judged: the West, in general, in the first four trumpets; the East in the first two woe-trumpets, including the Jews. The final conflict, and their judgment is yet to come and the prophet must prophesy again.

This properly begins, I apprehend, in Revelation 11:19, which is in effect a new prophecy, though it connects itself, of course, with what precedes in the chronology of the matter, and is thus interwoven. Indeed, the place of much of it, of its main historical parts, is given in the parenthesis. It is to be remarked, that the voice which calls out the second woe comes from the golden altar, is the fruit of the intercession of the Lord in favour, of course, of His saints. This gives a distinct character to the judgment, as in favour of the saints, which is indeed given as a general principle at the beginning of the trumpets; but distinguishes this from the first woe-trumpet, which was distinctly on the unfaithful, as contrasted with the sealed ones - on those who were not servants of God. The four angels give the second woe a very general and sweeping character; as we have had four seals of judgment, four angels at the four corners of the earth who hold the four winds, four trumpets of devastation on the Roman earth, so here the cry comes from the four horns of the altar, and the four angels are loosed. I suppose the Euphrates is to be looked at as the natural, and, till God so interferes, the maintained barrier of the Roman earth.

368 In Revelation 10 we come to the parenthetic communication of the little open book. It had not seals to be opened; it was given open. It was no longer mysterious and providential preparatory ways to introduce the Lamb, to unfold which redemption was needed; nor among mere Gentiles, where God had no direct government, in respect of Israel. Nor does the Lamb appear here as hidden in the throne. Christ comes to assert His own rights by His own title and power. Not that it was yet made good; but this was the ground He took, and from which the revelation that was given flowed. The hidden times were going on, before even the empire which was the subject of the course of prophecy had yet appeared. Now the question is openly raised - Is Christ to rule? And He openly lays claim to the title. On the other hand the beast, the great public subject of historical prophecy of the "times of the Gentiles," comes forward too. Along with this, Jerusalem and the Jews come upon the scene. This could not be otherwise, when the earth and the beasts and Christ are the subjects treated of. They are then the necessary centre of God's ways. But this gives a distinct character to this part of the prophecy.

The character given to Christ represented by the angel is, in covenant with creation, supreme authority, and the firmness of discriminating judgment. The source of it is heaven, and, I apprehend, as "clothed with the cloud." He still maintains this character, though He comes down. He holds in His hand now the open book of prophetic revelation, and claims the wide - flowing mass of nations, and the ordered government of earth. The perfect expression of the divine authority and power which was to make it good accompanied it, but the expressed detail of this was not to be revealed. There was now to be no longer delay. There had been long patience with failure and evil to gather men to blessing. The time to close it was come. Two angels had sounded, and in the days of the seventh or third woe-angel, when he would sound as he was about to do, the mystery of God would be finished. It would be the plain manifestation of His government and order, and blessing on the earth, and known authority, where it ought to be. John was to take the book and eat it - sweet in his mouth to receive the communications of God, but bitter for every feeling when its contents were digested. He was to prophesy again in view of peoples and kings. I should hardly think the prophecy begins with what follows. It affords the character and place in prophecy of that which is afterwards opened out in all its bearings - the internal history of the scene itself at the close, not its origin, relationships, judgments, etc., which are afterwards unfolded.

369 The language of this Revelation 11:1-18, though sometimes figurative, is not symbolical but literal in its general character. The prophet was given a reed, and he was to measure, to put under God's care and in His acceptance, the temple of God, the true inward place of His worship where priests could come, true worshippers among the Jews and in the consciousness of it, and the altar (I suppose, of incense), and those that worshipped there - the true Jewish worshippers of that day. The court outside was not accepted; and the Gentiles trod under foot the holy city forty-two months. But as heart-worship, it would be there in the remnant, so would testimony, and for a like period. Day by day, the two witnesses, the adequate testimony of God, prophesy in the midst of trial. They bear witness to the order and blessing of the Jewish state, when Messiah shall reign, but they are not in that state; not a candlestick with two olive-trees, but two candlesticks and two olive-trees. But they are before the God of the earth. God preserves them to complete their testimony.

The very terms, "holy city" and "Gentiles," lead us at once to Jewish associations here. All is a testimony to the state of things which exists before He who could put His right foot on the sea, and His left foot on the earth, whose voice the seven thunders accompanied, makes good His power in the earth, and makes the Jerusalem which He loves the seat of His power on the earth, before the God of the earth makes His rest-giving power known there. The power of judgment proceeds out of the mouth, that is, their word brings it on their enemies, according to their testimony, to devour those who would prevent their testimony. They have great power in this way. Verse 6 ascribes to them the same order and extent of power as was possessed by Moses and Elijah. The latter shut up heaven; the former turned water to blood, and smote Egypt with plagues. To this latter there is no limit - every plague whenever they will. This is great power; but they are in sackcloth - in sorrow and suffering: only this power is in their hand in time of need. But it is only to secure and maintain their testimony, not to set aside the power of the beast itself.

370 When the witnesses have completed their testimony, the beast that is known as the one ascending* out of the bottomless pit shall make war with them, overcome and kill them. It is very likely there may be literally two witnesses; but the main point, I apprehend, in the mind of the Spirit is, that there is, during the time of the beast's power and the treading down of the Gentiles, adequate testimony to the title of the God of the earth. There was an owned worship and an owned testimony, though only narrowed up to the straitest limits which preserved it, the house and the altar of incense, and an adequate witness. What was really priest and really prophet, the little remnant, was guarded of God. The beast was in his last form, here anticipated in expression as is the whole passage (see Rev. 17:12), when animated by, and deriving his power and being from, Satan. It does not follow from what is said, rather the contrary, that the witnesses are killed the first moment. The beast makes war against them and overcomes them, as soon as their testimony is complete, and kills them. But it does not, on the other hand, suppose any lengthened period. The triumph of evil seems complete. They were to be likened, in a great measure, to their Lord. Only their bodies are exposed in a public way in the great street of the city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. Israel is expressly called Sodom spiritually, and Egypt is the world; utter corruption on the one side; and the oppressing power of the world or Gentiles on the other - that idolatry and independence of God, out of which Israel had originally been called. The victory seemed complete, and the dwellers on earth rejoice over the witnesses slain, and make merry, for the two witnesses had tormented them.

{*"The one coming up," Rev. 11:7, is purely characteristic, as the same form is in a multitude of cases.}

371 A God of the earth, about to take His power and claim His rights over the earth, it was no resting-place for those who dwelt there at ease defying Him. But the triumph of the wicked is short. After three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood up to the dismay of those who saw them. They ascended up, like Christ in great measure, only with this difference, answering to the full insult heaped on them even when dead, which God could not allow as to Christ,* to whom, save in the moment of atonement, God gave ever testimony (however He suffered), namely, that their enemies beheld them. The likeness, atonement apart, of the history - of these witnesses to that of Christ is remarkable. They suffer for their testimony in Jerusalem become Sodom and Egypt. They he dead awhile, stand on the earth, and then go up to heaven. But we have the solemn truth that, on the one hand, a testimony is given to the Son of God which could not fail, that is, to His person; and on the other, He remains in His own holy power, not seen of His enemies, but giving comfort and a place of testimony to His friends. All this is fitting. Further we find, that as to outward human evil, things had ripened. There is more insolence, more joy, more open contrast, more public power of testimony; but the evil more openly unrestrained. A violent revolution on the earth accompanied the call of the witnesses to heaven; a tenth part of the city, the great city - I suppose, the city, fell; the organised system of the earth, a complete number of men** known of God, the fulness of His then purposed judgment, but not further - the rest are affrighted, and turn back in ignorance (not repentant or converted), to give glory to God in a relationship in which He no longer stood to the earth. They think to save themselves. This proves that they do not know God at all, nor His ways. But these men were not the public enemies of God. Still, a suitable outward effect is produced, as turning men outwardly towards the true God.

{*Their sufferings, of course, bore no comparison at all to His, seeing He suffered from the wrath of God, and in the spirit of love in which He had no equal.}

{**I doubt whether "names" has a particular force, save to individualize them. (See Rev. 3:4)}

The second woe, that of the horses and riders let loose from the Euphrates, was now closed. But how serious were the events of another kind which had happened in the period allotted to it of God! The holy city trodden down, the testimony of God raised up, and for a time stopped by the power of Satan exercised by the beast. But this gives occasion to the last intervention of God, not now by instruments in mystery providentially ordered, for there has been open testimony, and open rebellious opposition. This testimony had been rejected, and the time for mercy, long displayed, now closed.

372 Judgment was come. The seventh angel sounds. We have not, as yet, any details of the closing dealings of God, by which His wrath is exercised; but it was come. "The worldly kingdom of our Lord," say the voices in heaven, "and of his Christ are come." Such is the song which sounds out of heaven. It had been announced, and heaven knew what that trumpet announced. The elders then come in, and, as usual, give the reasons for praise. God is again proclaimed as at the beginning - Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai, the God of Israel and of the fathers, of the world, of the promise, and of power. Only now He had taken to Him His great power and the kingdom. The nations were angry, but how uselessly! Jehovah's Messiah and Son would be set up in Zion; the dead would be judged, the prophets and the God-fearing rewarded, and the destroyers of the earth destroyed. It is the general statement of the close of God's ways; of judgment and of its effects; the government of God made good in its final results.

The time of the dead seems to be taken absolutely, and is a very important element. The time of this world's activity is nor the time of the dead. There is no device or understanding there; but when God's time comes, it is the time of the dead - but to be judged (only here the Spirit turns more exclusively to what in fact will then come to pass, the case of the saints) and "give the reward unto thy servants, the prophets," and to all who have been faithful. The order of thought or revelation runs thus: "The nations have got angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead to be judged" [or that there may be judgment] "and the reward given," etc. The force, I apprehend, of the passive form of the verb "to be judged"* is, that judgment may take place. I should not exclude at all those, properly speaking, judged at the end, the wicked dead. But, save what is done at the beginning of the thousand years, all is given exceedingly abstractedly. What does happen at the beginning precisely? It is not of the dead being judged or for judging the dead, but "the nations angry and Thy wrath come." This last sentence, though general, is the way God treats the open rebellious anger of the nations. The time of mercy is now closed, and the wrath is come. "The time of the dead" is wholly general; so is "to be judged." The giving reward is definite, and so is the destroying them who destroy the earth. The objects are precisely named. The first point is the contrast of time. It is not the time of mercy and patience, but of wrath and judgment; also of reward to prophets and the just, and the putting away evil on the earth. I confess this looks little like the precise time of the setting up of Satan's great power and wrath. It closes the whole unfolding of the seven seals, and the ways of God.

{*Bengel refers it to God, as in Romans 3:6. But I apprehend it is quite general for judgment, for people being judged.}

373 His providential dealings with the earth are now over. His direct governmental dealings now begin. Not that many other events had now to be revealed. Their place had been shewn in the little open book; but they were a new and distinct prophecy, a prophesying again, but still, and yet more clearly and openly, in connection with the Jewish people. The brief summary of the same history brought in in the trumpet period, though the direct object be clearly Jerusalem and Palestine as a centre, is so expressed, that what is called a spiritual application may be made of it. Here, unless in the vaguest generalities, it seems impossible. To this prophesying again, the special religiously viewed result of the last days, I now turn.

The temple of God was opened in heaven. The book was open. It was a direct prophetic revelation of events according to the known tenor of prophecy, when the known relationships of prophecy were renewed, and God occupied Himself according to them with the earth, though it were in judgment. The temple too was opened. Heaven was to be in relationship with the earth; not in the secret way of providence, the bearing of which was revealed as a result, not the things or agents in relationship with God, but in dealings in which the objects were owned; in which, though heaven might be and was wonderfully brought in, God, in His ways, had to say directly to the earth. But then He must, as we have said, have to do with Jews. The ark of His covenant is seen in the temple - God's infallible connection with the Jewish people, only now according to heavenly counsel, purpose, and perfection. This was accompanied by all the signs of God's power in judgment with resulting convulsions on the earth, and positive judgment falling on men on the earth.

374 The vision now begins: what precedes only characterises it. A woman is seen in heaven. All is in divine thought and counsel here, not yet manifestation on the earth. It is as it stands in the divine mind. The woman, as remarked elsewhere, is a state of things, not an agent - a subjective vessel of God's display of His purposes. Here it is the Jewish people; but they are seen as in the mind of God, clothed with supreme authority, all the mere reflected light of the previous state of Judaism under her feet, and crowned with the emblem of complete authority in man, twelve stars. Twelve is complete ordered rule in man as of God, the stars are the light and witness authority gives, that is, authority viewed in its character of light and moral order. But she was in travail to bring forth. Here was one side of the picture: on the other, the power of evil still having his place in the sphere of power, in heaven - a great red dragon. He had seven heads, completeness in an inward way, constituted completeness in a thing in itself, not in relationship to others; not compounded but constitutive completeness. Seven cannot be divided; it is the highest uncomposed number that cannot. Twelve is the most perfectly divisible of all. I attach no importance to this, save as the way scripture uniformly uses these numbers denotes their character.

The dragon had ten horns, power or kingdoms, very much of it, but not complete; there were not twelve. The heads were sovereigns, were crowned. The dragon had influence over the third part of those subordinate or lesser powers which should have given light and order from God on earth, and had cast them out of this down to a merely earthly, dark and subject condition. They ceased to lighten or govern the earth. He stood to frustrate God's purposes, and to devour the child of the woman which was in travail. Here we must, properly speaking, see all the church-saints in Christ Himself. If we seek the church in Old Testament prophecy, we shall find only Christ. (Compare Isa. 50 and the end of Romans 8.) Christ is to rule all 'nations with a rod of iron (Ps. 2). This He has imparted to us, to have it with Him (Rev. 3). Hence the catching up of the man-child is our catching up, too. There is no separating Christ and the church in God's thoughts and purposes. It would be the head without the body. This then was in the counsels of God; not to make good power in the male child at the beginning, but to have it caught up to God. Next the woman, the Jewish mother of Christ, and, in Him, of the church, has thereon her place in the wilderness. It is not what is united to Christ which has this, but what preceded Him, out of which He sprang. This closes the ordering of the scene and persons; their taking their places in God's order.

375 What follows is historical prophecy. There is war in heaven. And the dragon (called the devil and Satan), who deceives the whole world, is cast out of heaven never to return, and his angels with him. This is before the beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty days of the woman's being in the wilderness. The first dealing of the dragon, before his casting out, was seeking to devour the child; this is met, not by acting on his position or his being cast out, but by the child being caught up. All this embraces the whole time of Christ's rejection from earth, and being taken up, and our being caught up. Then the saints being with Christ, and the heavenly Man who is to rule complete and with God, after this Satan and his angels are cast out of the place of rule. When cast out (v. 13, 14) he persecutes the woman; and the date on earth begins with the commencement of her staying in the wilderness. Historically, we are only as yet at the time of his being cast out (v. 9); but this casting out of Satan (the angels have nothing to do with this, the heavenly or accusing part) calls out praise and gladness in heaven. In truth it was a great change. Satan was cast out of heaven, and all his deceit and work as in heaven was over for ever. He might raise up the earth in open war against the Lamb, or, subsequently, from all quarters the deceived nations on the earth against the Lamb and the beloved city; but his deceits connected with heaven and his accusations, his carrying on a system pretended to be heavenly, but where his power was developed, His working under the name of the true God, but against the true God, and true Mediator, and true saints - all this was closed for ever. This was the great fact, the blessed and all-important fact, full of rest to the spirit in hope.

376 But several details must be here entered into for the interpretation of the book. The loud voice which often occurs has the natural force of a great public fact, to which universal attention is called. It carries authoritative announcement from heaven. But we have further to inquire who speaks here because he says our God and our brethren; and the voice is an abstract idea, so that it does not in itself determine the person or persons who utter it. They are various in the Apocalypse. Here it is not without importance. It is a voice in heaven, yet it is naturally of many - "Our God, our brethren." It contemplates, however, others on earth who are their brethren. Those who speak have the consciousness of near relationship to God, and celebrate the setting up of the kingdom of their God, and the power of His Christ. Christ, however, is seen in other relationships than with themselves. God was setting up the power of His Christ.

Thus we have three classes or subjects: those whose voices are heard, their brethren, and the kingdom set up. Add to this, that the event they celebrate is followed by the manifestation of a distinct body of persons belonging to God on earth, before the kingdom is established there - the woman and the remnant of her seed. That is, we have those who utter the loud voice, their brethren, and the woman and her seed, subsequent to this period, but before the kingdom on earth. This is important as to the order of events too. Those who celebrate the event with a loud voice are a class already exempt from the difficulties from which the accused ones are only as a class delivered.

The saints who have part in the rapture, as it is customarily called, who form part of the man-child, who are actively associated with Christ, while that association is carried on by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven in its proper power, until the moment that this whole process of union is closed by their going to meet the Lord in the air - these who have their glorified position are corporately placed in it, united to the man-child. These it is who celebrate the deliverance of brethren, just escaped from trial upon earth, associated with heaven - for Christ was not yet manifested for earth, nor the last public trial of His title there begun. Satan had been yet on high till now, to resist before the throne of God the blessing of those whose hearts looked up there, so as to be ready to suffer anything rather than deny the truth and the Lord. Grace had given them the victory. Their victory was martyrdom. Satan accused these saints, and exercised his power from heaven over those that were not saints. He is cast down; this accusing work ceases, and he loses this place of power. Power is exercised in heaven to drive him from this seat of power. The kingdom of God and of His Christ was set up in the seat of power. The effect would follow on earth when the time was come; but the power of the kingdom of God was set up in the sovereign place of authority; for Satan was cast down.

377 The brethren were the saints who had been on earth, faithful in testimony, between the rapture and the casting-down of Satan. For the church is here looked at as a complete thing in itself (of course united to Christ) before the government part of the book begins. The brethren are the saints of the Apocalypse, whose prayers, for example, were presented (Rev. 5), who were under the altar (Rev. 6) till now that Satan is cast down. Now all that is in heaven, all who dwell there, can rejoice. There is "peace in heaven," but, as yet, terrible things on earth. For as yet the king was not yet come there in the name of Jehovah. The saints had been killed, perhaps, by him that had the power of death yet they had overcome him. So had Christ, who died too. "By the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony," does not mean their instruments in the warfare, but the cause of the victory. It is (dia to) because of, not (dia tou) through. How far they may have used both is not the question here. But they were in conflict with Satan, the accuser. They did render testimony, and that brought death, as it had the Lamb's; but His blood and the word of their testimony were the cause of their moral victory, though, as in the body, they might succumb.

There is no fixed time here till the casting-out of Satan, or rather the woman's flying into the wilderness, which begins the last half-week. Outwardly the ascension is the only point of departure as to time. So it is in Matthew 24. It goes from the ascension to the abomination of desolation as one time, because it speaks only of the remnant's testimony in Palestine, adding the fact that before the end it would go to all nations; then a precise date in the setting up the abomination of desolation. In Matthew 10, it goes from the mission of the twelve, then setting forth to the coming of the Son of man without any supposed break, leaving out the sending to all nations. For prophecy the church was a mystery. Here then we have the same order as in Matthew 24. But as the church is already gathered and on high and John sees from heaven, we have the additional element of its heavenly apprehension of the effect of the casting-down of Satan. Their brethren's toils too are closed - the victory won.

378 We now turn to the present effect on earth. The dragon, thus defeated and cast out, has the consciousness that his time is short, and has great wrath, a source of woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea - of the ordered scene of God's government and light, and of the general mass of nations. The efforts of the dragon are directed against the woman who brought forth the man-child - against the Jewish people. God grants a mighty and rapid escape from this attempt of Satan. The woman has the eagle-wings. That is, she has no power save of rapid escape, and this she does, and is nourished in the wilderness (deprived of the present resources of the civilised earth) three times and a half (forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days) from the face of the serpent. The serpent sought to overwhelm her by a flood of people under his influence, in vain. The earth, the scene of divine order in the world, opened its mouth, and swallowed it up - absorbed, in some way, the flood of people who would have overwhelmed the Jews. But the body to be preserved is removed from the scene of witness; and the dragon proceeds to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed: those Jews not hidden away with the body, but who kept the commandments of God - godly Jews - and had the testimony of Jesus Christ; that is, the Spirit of prophecy, which speaks of and reveals Jesus, and is His word. This is the Jewish aspect of the scene.

We now turn to what, in the Gentile world, is connected with it, at any rate in what regards Daniel's monarchies or the beast. The prophet sees a beast rise up out of the sea; the origin of the Roman empire, now viewed however in its end. So it was in chapter 12, where the origin of all in the exaltation of Christ to heaven, and the consequent wilderness state of the Jews as God saw them, was brought forward, but really for their history at the end. Only there the purpose of God, and object of the prophecy in the glory of Israel, is first brought into view, because they were the objects of purpose. The beast is seen as coming out of the mixed mass of peoples. But the heathenish state is not before us. The heads are not crowned, but the horns. The distinct kingdoms subsist, and are in view as such. The seven heads identify it with the Roman empire as a whole, but it took in the previous empires; not necessarily in extent of territory, but it absorbed them, and had the seats of their power in its possession - the horns with the kingdoms into which it had been divided. But now the dragon, Satan's power in the world, gave it his throne, and power, and great authority. One of the forms of the government of the beast had been slain, but it was healed - I suppose the imperial - and all the earth (not world) was in admiration. They acknowledge the dragon, the prince of the world, in his Roman form. The Latin world revived, and the new revival of it, the beast. "Who was like him? Who able to make war with him?"

379 But more, the beast, thus in scene, used great words against God. It is the beast of Daniel 7; not only oppressor of men and of saints, but one who exalts himself openly against God. He was to continue forty and two months, the same time the woman was in the wilderness, a half-week. He is then presented to us as active in blasphemy, to blaspheme God's name and His tabernacle, His heavenly church, and those who dwelt in heaven, all saints who belonged on high and were on high, even if they could not be called the tabernacle of God. The dragon could yet give him a throne upon earth; but he was out of heaven. The beast, inspired by him, could only blaspheme those out of his power and reach. This confirms greatly, its being after the dragon's being cast down, if that were needed. But earth, for a little and a measured time, was more within his power. He makes war with the saints and overcomes them. Here detail is not given. It is characteristic. From other passages, we know that there will be those slain who will go to heaven; those who, persecuted and driven out, will escape his hand on earth. He has the general dominion of the beasts over kindreds, tongues, and nations. It is remarkable how the Russian and German nationalities are ignored here.* As a general thing, in the world at large, power belonged to the West, to the beast. Finally, all that dwell on the earth will worship him, save only those written in the Lamb's book of life. Remark here, that the dwellers upon earth are not an evil class in contrast with what was to be supposed heavenly - the assembly. But the heavenly saints as such being in heaven, all who remain are held dwellers on earth, with the exception of an elect remnant. I have elsewhere remarked, that it is "written," not "slain," from the foundation of the world.

{*But not perhaps wholly in other expressions.}

380 All this is more descriptive than historical. It was what was needed. Those who have to do with him know the features of this deadly enemy, If any had an ear, he was to hear. But physical opposition by violence was not God's way. Power was left with evil till He judged. Then the beast of violence, and his followers, would be killed. Meanwhile they must possess their souls with patience. And here was where their patience and faith would be tried.

But another power, a second beast, rises up; not out of the mass of nations, but out of the ordered scene which has professedly to say to God. He had the forms of Christ's power, but his voice, to a discerning ear, displayed the dragon. He is the proper Antichrist; false prophet and king in Israel. The heavenly anti-priestly character of Satan was closed by his casting out. He gives the same proof lyingly of his power, and the beast's title, as Elijah did of the divine supremacy of Jehovah. He makes fire come down from heaven in the sight of men. He exercises all the power of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth, and those dwelling on it, to worship the renewed Roman empire. I do not say he does not deceive the nations; this I suppose 2 Thessalonians 2 proves. Still I find myself here in a specially Jewish circle. In 2 Thessalonians it is more amongst Gentiles, who have not received the love of the truth. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie; and there the signs referred to by Peter, as given by Jesus to prove He was the Christ, are attributed to the man of sin, of course lying ones. Here it is the proof of Jehovah.

But I should doubt that the Gentiles trouble themselves about His being the Christ, save as a rationalist might; but they believe a lie, for they are given up to it. His testimony they will receive of course. A Jewish Christ is not for Gentiles; but in Judea he will be an Antichrist. He denies that Jesus was the Christ, and he denies the Father and the Son. Those who have hated true Christianity willingly accept this, and his other pretensions with it - of course the Jews as well: indeed both his negations and pretensions, so that he takes Antichristian and, withal, Jewish ground. But in connection with Christianity and the truth, it is negative and a lie; while, in Judea and in the world's scene of government here, we have the positive side (the historical in Daniel 11 - the king): he is a false prophet (so found at the end); and here especially, pretending to the royalty of Him that suffered, he is Messiah, the king, but linked with the Satanic power of the revived Roman empire, and setting that up. This goes so far, that he leads the dwellers upon earth to make an image to the beast, and gives breath to it; and it speaks and causes those who would not worship it to be killed.

381 Thus idolatry is set up, and Gentile power, as set up by Satan, honoured. Times and laws are given into the beast's hands, and the abomination that causes desolation set up; but the glorious empire protects Jerusalem and God is cast out. All are forced by the second beast to have the stamp, in public avowal or service of the beast, upon them. I cannot but think that the proper subject of the history of the second beast, and here we have history, not merely character, is Palestine - Jerusalem - in connection, no doubt, with the Roman empire but still, centrally, Palestine. The first beast comes up out of the sea at large; the second beast, out of the earth. He shews his power in the sight of men. But those spoken of are not merely characteristically dwellers on the earth, but those who dwell therein, where earth seems land. I see power in Palestine or Judea; deception going wider. The world, as such, was running voluntarily after the beast; but here the setter-up to be Messiah, the king, compels them to own and worship him. There was not readiness to do this where he was. Still, in general, while power was in the hands of the first beast, deception and wickedness were exercised by the second. The result would be the blasphemous renewal of the Latin empire, with general power over the world, blaspheming against God and persecuting the saints; and in Palestine, a false Messiah, denying Christianity altogether, and the claims of Jesus Christ, who deceives men by false miracles, leads them under his power, and sets up an image of the beast, and forces them to subject themselves openly and avowedly to the beast, and that with extreme governmental tyranny. He enchains men in his deceptions, and has his local character and sphere in Palestine. It is not difficult to conceive one setting up to be Messiah, having power in Palestine, and also religiously deceiving men in general.

382 Such is the last scene of the prophetic world, as far as under the original beasts' power, the times of the Gentiles. We have now the intervention of God in respect of this power, and of all evil. But first we must have the earthly saints owned, as before the heavenly ones. The prophet sees a Lamb standing on Mount Zion. He who suffered takes His royalty, and particularly the royalty on Mount Zion or of David, and with Him companions of the royal sufferer, 144,000, with His Father's name written on their foreheads. Having suffered like Him, they are associated with Him in the royal place of earthly glory. They have the place in principle, in which Christ was revealed on earth. He was Lamb, but revealed His Father's name. They, though late, had taken this place, and they had His Father's name on their foreheads. It is not said, "their Father's"; that is, they had not had the Spirit of adoption on the earth; but they had walked in the Lamb's steps, who had this relationship, viewed as born on earth. They were associated with the Lamb, who was to reign as king on the holy hill of Zion, and held His title by that word, "Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten Thee"; that Son whom all the kings and judges of the earth were to kiss, or perish.

But there is connection now with heaven. It is the Lord from heaven, who establishes the throne in Zion, where His followers are seen anticipatively; for the throne is not seen there yet. But the voice of glory and of praise sounds from heaven. They sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and before the elders. This is a remarkable statement; for who are the singers? There is a general idea (as in Rev. 5:9), "there was sung." Still there is here added, "before the beasts and elders." So that we have another class of singers. It is in no way the song of the church-saints. Those who sing, sing before them. The church-saints are viewed apart, identified in position with the throne.

As contrasted with Revelation 5:9, we have power, might, praise; that is the public testimony of this, but no priestly intercession, nor reason given for distinct praise. The celebration of in-coming power is in its place here. The intimacy of worship, service, and priesthood belonged to the living creatures or elders. What was heard from heaven now was the former. This the 144,000 could learn. They had gone through the tribulation on earth, and could understand the heavenly song of this kind, though not the beasts' and elders' association with the throne. It would seem to be the heavenly and earthly portions of those faithful after the rapture of the church; some in heaven who praised there; others, who having faithfully passed through the same circumstances, can learn their song though on earth. These last are the firstfruits of earth (not the church, but for the millennial earth before the harvest), firstfruits to God and the Lamb; that is, to God as known in the display of government, which is the subject of this book. They had not been mixed up with the Jezebel, or Babylon, or heathenly idolatrous systems, which had gone on; their hearts were fresh for God. Nor was there guile in their mouth; they were without fault; they had been kept pure, and pure (truthful) in heart from all by which Satan had seduced men.

383 Next, in these ways of God, the everlasting gospel is sent out into the earth and every nation before the judgment comes. Such is ever God's way. It is not the special witness of heavenly salvation and the church, but the old glad-tidings belonging to the course of God's dealings with the earth - that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head, and the kingdom and final blessing be brought into the creation. Hence men were warned of the judgment just coming in, and called to own Him who made heaven and earth.

Next, the fall of Babylon is announced - the idolatrous fornicating system; but the beast was not yet destroyed.

Hence, in the fourth testimony of God's ways, or third angel (for the first was not the acting of God, but the manifestation to the prophet of those who had been previously faithful, and had a special place) - in the fourth testimony men are warned, that if they own the beast they will have God's wrath. Those who had rejected the beast had been exposed to his wrath; now, God's judgment was just coming in, and woe to those who owned the beast. Here was the trial of the saints' faith.

This closed the testimony of God, nor would any more now be killed for the faith, but the dead receive the public reward of their works. It is not the church's special place which is noticed here, but the condition of those who have died in the Lord, as connected with this book. I doubt not that all departed saints will come in; but the direct occasion is the closing of the time of suffering on the earth, and the public reward of labour in the appearing of Jesus.

384 Hence the Lord is immediately introduced, coming in the cloud. And the two following and closing testimonies give the double character of His judgment. The Son of man comes crowned, with a sharp reaping sickle. The earth is reaped. Here He gathers in judgment on the earth, that is, the mixed wicked ones are dealt with in judgment, the righteous are spared, and the wicked taken by the judgment.

But there was another character of judgment - that which had a special religious character. It is not the earth was reaped - the judgment of the general state of the world, the population as it stood in the earth; but that which, before God and at Jerusalem, held a religious character - had, however apostate, been the seat of religious profession and fruit-bearing in the earth - what Israel had been of old: Christ alone on the earth in truth, by a certain analogy the professing church for a length of time, and lastly Israel joined with Antichrist, and the beast (in religious matters) at the close. In this last state, it was judged; and here there was no sparing, as in harvest: all was cast into the wine-press of God's wrath.

Thus we have, with the counsel of God as to Israel, the whole history of the period from the ascension of the Lord, and of the church to be with Him, to the public destruction of His apostate enemies on the earth. The heavenly church is only seen as caught up - and the history is the history of what passes afterwards, till all is closed, essentially of the last half-week of the beast, and God's actings on the earth during the same period. This is a complete portion in itself.