Fragmentary Thoughts on Revelation

J. N. Darby.

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{For the remaining papers in this series, the reader is referred to the Editor's Note, Vol. 12, page 1. They are mainly notes of Addresses, not known to have been revised by the Author, save where this is specially indicated.}

Revelation 17

"Judgment" (v. 1) does not merely mean the execution of punishment, but the sentence pronounced or accusation. There are here things with which Babylon is charged: it is said of Christ that Pilate put up His "accusation"* - the thing for which He was sentenced. Babylon here has the character of the church, and yet it is the most wicked system in the world. John, having part in the poor despised church, was banished to the isle of Patmos for the testimony of Jesus; and yet he saw that which was called "the church" governing this Roman empire which had put him in prison, a constituted system controlling peoples, etc. No wonder that he marvelled (v. 6): it must have been astonishing to him. The expression means, he wondered with a great wonder, somewhat as we should say, dying the death. "They that dwell on the earth shall wonder" - in their moral character, dwellers upon earth: it is general. The place to be looked to as the scene of it is the Roman empire.

{*[But this is aitia, Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26.]}

218 The special character of the whore is seductive influence of the masses, and alliance with the leading powers. The kings commit fornication with her, and the masses are made thoroughly stupefied - drunk with new wine - not like those who were accused of being so in Acts, but in truth filled with the Spirit. In their sober senses they would have seen the corruption, but they are made drunk. It can only be understood in "the wilderness" (v. 3), where it is seen there is not one green blade for the soul. Upon her forehead was a name written, "Mystery," etc. If a person is drunk, you may write on his forehead anything, things that were never heard of. She would not have taken such names as Mother of Harlots, etc., if her eyes had been open. The character of it is very plain, except to the besotted mind. John was in the Spirit led into the wilderness, and therefore he could understand it. A "MYSTERY" can only be discerned by revelation and the power of God. It is simple to him who understands, but "great is the mystery of godliness; God manifest in the flesh," etc., is a riddle to those who have no spiritual understanding.

This false thing which has the name of "mystery," to those who are used to it, is as rotten as possible. The priest, with all his mummery, genuflexions, etc., can laugh at it; but the simple man who is ensnared by it thinks it all piety, and he is deluded by it. Absolution is thought to be a very wonderful thing - it quiets his conscience, and then he begins sinning again. Men call it a mystery, and so it may be, because it is the devil's work. There is only one thing to keep a man out of popery, and that is the knowledge of divine righteousness. If one has got that, he will never want to try putting a cross on the ground, and then licking the dust. Divine righteousness can never be made a whit better by any works of self-crucifixion, mortification, etc., and therefore the man who knows he has this will not be trying works of his own to add to it.

219 Popery not only wants to add works, but it wants a priesthood. In Christendom, wherever there is a pretension to priesthood there is the devil. There is something that separates between me and God: there may be ever so little a germ of it, but still it is there. Priesthood in any shape is a denial of Christianity, though there may be a great deal that modifies the case. It brings a veil between me and God, as though Christ had not accomplished the work. Priesthood and clericalism, as set up by man, are both against God and the priesthood of Christ, interfering with the work of redemption as though this wanted something to be added to it. A man-organised ministry or clergy, denies liberty to God's love; and virtually says, If you do not let me cut the channel, the gospel shall not go forth. I believe in ministry, but that is the very reason I will not admit clericalism; just for the same reason that, if I support royalty, I shall not admit a usurper. If I am not spiritual enough to get to God myself, I naturally enough get someone else to go for me; that is why priesthood and the clergy are set up. Popery is denying not so much truth as the application of truth. They allow there is efficacy in Christ's blood-shedding, but how am I to get it? is the question. Oh! said Luther, get it by faith. Here is the application of it.

There is another thing that characterises Babylon - idolatry; like Balaam, who set a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, etc. When priesthood comes in, there is always more or less of idolatry also. If I know how to come to God, I do not want a priest any more than an idol; but if not, I want both. "Abominations" (v. 4, 5) simply means idols. The word 'abomination' constantly occurs in the Old Testament, meaning an idol. It is connected with all that is degraded; and the moment man gives up belief in the true God, he is sure to degrade himself. If man does not look to something above himself, he will sink to that which is below him, as we see in Romans 1. The attributes of God Himself were made to be symbolised in the cherubim which the Ninevites, etc., used to worship. They stopped short at the symbol, instead of going beyond to Him who was symbolised, and this was idolatry. In Israel they made pillars of God's throne. What men had formerly about the Creator, they have now about the Intercessor. The truth of God is thrown into a channel that suits nature, but it is opposed to the Holy Ghost.

220 Then the next thing is murder. Satan is a liar, and the "father of lies"; and he is also a "murderer from the beginning." So, in the working of Satan, we find there is first idolatry, and then it leads to murder. The "woman is drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." This is the time of prosperity to her. She is drunken. There are two characteristics given of those with whose blood she is drunken. It is not said any Christians; but they who "will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." "I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them." The terms, saints and martyrs of Jesus, witnesses for Him, are given to characterise them. They are not characterised as those who are settling down here upon earth.

"The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her" (v. 2). This, in a hidden way, we may find going on now. The departure of the pope from Rome was the beginning of it. The kings of the earth are allying with the pope, in order to keep down radicalism, which is an enemy to them. The woman sits upon a scarlet-coloured beast (v. 3), and the beast must carry her, but she governs the beast.

"The beast that was, and is not," etc. (v. 8), means the Roman empire - an expression that is intended to characterise it, not date. It "shall be present"; that is, it is the resurrection of the Roman empire in a devilish way - the perfection of power in a diabolical energy. There are seven heads and ten horns - neither spiritual nor human perfection.

Verse 14. "They that are with him are called and faithful, and chosen." This is the bride individualised. When Christ is spoken of as Bridegroom, she is spoken of as bride, and that is in the Father's house; but when the throne or the Lamb is spoken of, they are individualised who are connected with them.

Verse 15. "The waters which thou sawest" are not only dwellers on the Roman earth here, but China and all over the world. Wherever Christ goes, she, the mother of abominations, thinks she has a right to go. Kings mean kings as such; horns mean kingdoms - the whole power, such as France, where there may be no king reigning.

221 The beast was the vessel of Satan's power against the vessel of God's power - Christ. There is the holiness of the one city - the heavenly Jerusalem; and the scenes of corruption God judges in the other: and it is well to notice that what is after the flesh is always successful at the first, in order to put the faithful to the test. "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural." Cain and his doings are first narrated, before we hear of the true seed; Ishmael, the apparent heir, was long before the birth of Isaac; Esau remained in the promised land, while Jacob was a fugitive; Saul was king before David, and, to all appearance, Saul possessed the title to God's power for a long time, while David did not resist him. We may see it in Jesus Himself, when He said, "I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought"; while others said, "Aha! aha! so would we have it." Yes, and Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice." It is God's way, in His rule of government, to allow it to go on for a time. He will put to the test whether the heart will go through the trial of being put down, but when God takes His power He will have it otherwise; until then, the Lord says, "I waited patiently" (Psa. 40): take no rescue till He comes. When did Jesus ever save Himself from all that came upon Him?

The whore sits upon "many waters." The wicked may have children at their desire, and have substance; but the saint says, When God fills all things, I shall then be satisfied, and I shall awake up in His likeness. We have a description of Babylon before the heavenly Jerusalem - the whore in chapters 17 and 18, and the bride in chapter 21.

There is imperial glory in Babylon also - all that could attract - purple, scarlet, and precious stones; but John saw by the Spirit the true character of it all - the beauty which attracts man but disgusts God, and He will never be mocked. He will have us walk by faith, and though He shews us the woman riding the beast, and the beast carrying the woman, He holds the bridle till the church is gathered. "Babylon the great"! This is the character of it, and in this way it is the world, it is the source and spring of all the idolatry, the rival of the Jerusalem of God; and she is not the only one, but the mother of all, and in her was found the blood of saints and martyrs. As Babylon she had corrupted all the nations, and here she is drunken with blood. You always find the great opponent of truth is the corrupter. See it in the chief priests, who gave up Christ; they were more guilty than the soldiers. After paganism we have corruption from what bore the name of Christianity; and not only so, but oppression; in her the blood is found - that which called itself the holy city!

222 In verse 8 the beast was, and is not. The Roman empire ascends, for there is a connection between the two - the seven heads and ten horns. The Roman empire was, and is not, but comes back again, and comes under the influence of Satan, for it ascends "out of the bottomless pit." Christ came out from God's throne, and the beast out of the depths of the pit - an antagonistic power; one out of the light, the other out of darkness, and they wonder who are not guarded by God's electing grace. The shadows are coming over the renewed Roman earth, the principles are at work. But verse 9 is a distinct character, the woman is on the seven hills, not on the beast - Rome, and marked to shew not merely a beast, but Babylonish power: the whole power so concentrated in the last head, that it becomes the beast. Christ wields the power of heavenly things, and in the same way (v. 12) for a season, no kingdom yet. But the ten horns receive power for one hour with the beast: they are contemporaneous - did not supplant the beast, but received power with him. We have seen, in a sense, they have power with the woman, but here it is a person in whom the power is concentrated, but I get in the ten horns the federacy, associated with the beast, they give "their power and strength," "their kingdom" unto the beast. Western Europe will present it, they will have one kind of general unity, not individuality of the nations but unity, and they cannot go on without a head; so they are content to give power to the beast, and they say, "Who is like to the beast?" And they make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb overcomes them and we have the church with Him. Angels are not called to this; they are upheld by grace, but not "called" (v. 14).

In verse 16 the ten horns hate the whore, for, after all, the woman will be in the way; they will not bear to be priest-ridden, and they will destroy her. All that is ripening up will be destroyed by the people in an ignominious way; for though thus corruption is trying to keep down the people, it will not succeed.

223 This is the latter-day scene, and, in closing, I would say, it is a solemn scene; but what can we expect from sinful! man? and, I must say again, there is no corruption so terrible as the corruption of the mediation of Christ. The heart that is brought to Him is astonished to see how people are attracted by the external, which has not one trace of Christ in it. But the soul that is brought to God has got divine righteousness, and if one comes to me to offer pardon of my sins, I say, I have got it. And if I receive from you, I must get it again and again; but through Christ's blood my sin is remembered no more. The thing offered is not Christianity, for the Christian has got his place; and it has got Babylon on its forehead, and if you cannot see, you have not got a spiritual eye. The Lord help us, for all are in danger who are not on simple ground. I have no thought that man's wisdom will do anything; but He will keep the feet of His saints. If the woman is destroyed, the horns give power to the beast: if corruption ceases, these make war with the Lamb, but the soul that is brought into peace, and holding the Head, shall be hid secretly; near to Jesus is a hiding-place, and there we shall be spared from all that is around. The Lord keep us from the spirit of the world, and guard us from the corruption of the mediatorial work of Christ!

Revelation 18

The other angel (v. 1) is not the Lord. Babylon (v. 2) "is fallen," or morally sunk into the lowest degradation. The actual fall is narrated in chapter 19:2. The consummation is openly diabolical, because Satan is cast out of heaven.

Verse 4 is a cry to the people of the Lord to come out, etc. The mixture of Judaism and Christianity will be such as never was known before: Judaism, which is really heathenism, as in Galatians 4, where Paul calls observing days and years a turning back to the beggarly elements - being circumcised to keep the law, etc. It is the religion of the flesh. Up to the cross of Christ God was dealing with all this; but when Judaism is grafted on Christianity, it is hateful to Him. What are prayed to as Saint Peter and Saint Paul are demons: as they used to introduce false gods, so now they introduce false mediators. Puseyism is heathenism. The shapes of evil, counterfeiting God, are Judaism, demonism, and heathenism. Infidel latitudinarianism is the character of evil in England, different from what it is in India. Popery slurs over sin; no matter how they sin, an indulgence will atone for it. It is a shame for His people to be there, but still He remembers them (v. 4). People who are in the ark cannot be touched, but an apostate protection He will judge thoroughly.

224 Verses 12, 13. Everything not heavenly is mixed up with her: "Souls of men." "Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you," 2 Peter 2:3. There is a time "to love, and a time to hate," and there are certain things which if a person does not hate, he has no right estimate of God. Some things ought to be hated - not the persons of course - "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." We must not confound natural kindness with grace; but it is easy to do it, and to be indifferent to God's honour. The popish hierarchy has been guilty of shedding all the blood that has been shed upon earth. It is the centralisation of all the wickedness that has been done on the earth from the time of Abel downwards, and Rome will be judged for it (v. 24).

Chapters 17 and 18 are a parenthesis in the history, which is continued from chapters 16 to 19. Chapters 17 and 18 are descriptive, not historical. In chapter 21:9, we have a description of the heavenly city after the Lamb is come, just as we get this description, in chapter 18, of this other city, the object of God's wrath; first that which is carnal, and afterward that which is spiritual. There is the false and the true, and it is after the false is set aside that the true is put in its place. The corrupt pretended to be the heavenly thing, but the Lord will take His bride, and produce her before the world in glory.

Babylon is "the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth." The whole character of it is idolatry and hostility to God. The Lamb does not execute judgment upon her, but the one true God executes the judgment upon that which had come in between Himself and the souls of men (chap. 19:1-2).

We are little conscious of the blessing granted us, in being made acquainted with God's purposes, even those of judgment. The first thing, of course, for the soul to be anxious about, is the possession of peace with God. But then the heart will not be shut up to that, but is enlarged of God, to enter into the whole scene and scope of glory, in which the Lord Jesus Christ delights, and in which He will have us with Him, and in connection with this scene, into the judgments on opposers and enemies, consequent on His taking His inheritance.

225 If we think of the past or the present, in scripture or profane history, and consider how power has been abused, we cannot wonder at the joy heaven evinces, and the song of praise bursting forth at God's taking the government: "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" Trace it back to the flood. After delegating the new world to Noah, we find man despising the authority of God, and idolatry coming in; in fact, the whole course of the world is according to the prince of the power of the air - according to Satan - and not according to God; all is apostate from God. The more religious they were, the more Satan was honoured. As the apostle says, "The things the Gentiles offer, they offer to devils and not to God." It is not simply the natural lusts contending, and the motives enlisted on the side of sin: every way, it is all the devil's. What a change, when God shall take the power into His own hands, and we can sing, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"

All idolatry is summed up in Babylon, "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Go back to Nebuchadnezzar. The head of gold turns to idolatry. And I would note here, all that was connected with the worship of Pluto in pagan religion; and you will see that the unity of the Godhead was not the truth denied (a shadow of truth men never effaced even here, though hell and the devil were all that remained of it). That which man quarrelled with was that which reveals the Mediator. Satan cannot deny there is a God, but he will try to hinder (by putting another object between) His light and love from shining into the heart and conscience, and so revealing Him who alone can give us peace. When the golden calf was made, the devil did not take away the name of Jehovah; for they said, "To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah." So now it is not the name of God cast out; but the introduction of that which hides the truth. All Satan's aim is to blot out the Mediator. So John, in his epistles, when heathenism and Judaism were combined in this one object, meets it by "God is light," and "God is love." And the saints are to be partakers of the same. So long as Satan can hinder that, he will give the name, and call it Christianity; but his object is to keep up the distance between our souls and God, and to prevent us from reaching the blessed end for which Jesus suffered - "who suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Blessed be God, we have such a mediator, who brings us to God, raising us up to Him; not as Satan tries to bring God down to us - "after the similitude of a calf eating hay." The corruption of the mediatorial work of Christ is Satan's widespread power over the nations in the hands of Babylon, - but "Strong is the Lord God that judgeth her."

226 The first verse ascribes salvation and glory, etc., to God - not to the Lamb - but to God on the throne, reigning; first, executing judgment, then reigning; to the God of heaven sitting on the throne (not coming to earth) in the characters known to the Old Testament saints as Shaddai and Jehovah, judging Babylon. He reserves to Himself the judgment which puts down Satan's power and malice. Be not surprised at power unintelligible, yet chaining men's minds. It is Satan's work. It is quite beyond us, and cannot be put down till the Lord God takes the power and gives perfect deliverance. Christ cannot display His long-affianced bride until the evil is removed, that which is false and corrupt put aside, and that which is true brought out in its place. The pretended heavenly thing removed, Christ will bring forth His bride and produce her before the world in the glory prepared for her. While He is hid with God, we are hid too. Our display shall be with His display. The church and the world cannot go on together. By the Holy Ghost she is planted and set down here in the character of witness. In as far as she is true, she is hated by the world. For a brief season there was gladness, and the people glorified God; but she has to walk by faith, not by sight now. A heavenly character is hers. "Ye are not of this world." And He cannot appear till we come forth with Him.

God will have realities. Now although He is bearing with corruption, it is only in order to the gathering His church to Himself. She having gone up and been received of Christ, He will come back with her, and be manifested to all. May we keep ourselves for Him until He comes!

Protestantism is what Sardis characterises, and comes to nothingism - a name to live, but dead, etc. In Thyatira it is positive, active corruption. Jezebel is a religious character or Babylon, the world-church system. Jezebel is popery, producing papists. Babylon is popery governing the world. Her final condemnation we have in chapter 19:2. The rule of God and the marriage of the Lamb are kept back until this great system is judged. No wonder there is the voice of much people heard, saying, Alleluia, etc. "The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped." Verse 8 explains verse 7.

227 Verses 6, 7 are the song; the following verses are the history. It is necessary to see the distinction. His wife hath made herself ready by being faithful in what God had given her. "Righteousness" should be plural, and I believe it is God owning the practical walk of the individual saints that compose the bride. They were given to have resurrection-life with Him. What is produced is the righteousness of saints, and seen before God in resurrection character - the display in glory of responsibility as to service done in the Holy Ghost by us down here. "Their works do follow them." "Was granted that they should be arrayed in fine linen" shews it is grace, after all. The Lord is pleased to own the work wrought in us, and by us, in the Holy Ghost down here. In virtue of life in my Head I stand before God: in virtue of what He has done in me, the manifestation of that life, I stand before the saints, before man.

"These are the true sayings of God" (v. 9). "Sayings" have a very large meaning. Christ is the Word of God, and His are the sayings of God.

The parable at the beginning of Matthew 25 is not Jewish, though the hidden bride is the earthly Jerusalem. The wise virgins are true Christians, and the foolish those who profess, have only the name, in this dispensation - going out to meet the Bridegroom. The Jewish remnant does not "go out," but Christ comes to it. The figure of virgins characterises them as individual saints, not in their corporate character as the church, though they are of the church (that is, the true and faithful virgins). In the Gospels, when the bride is alluded to at all, it is usually in this way (namely, as individual saints). The difference between the wise and the foolish virgins is not in their watching, for they all go to sleep, but it rather consists in the reality of what they have got. If they were caring for Christ, they would be thinking of the light He would want to see, and would look to the oil; but if they only cared about the company of the other virgins, they would be thinking about their dress, and many other things, rather than the light. In Matthew 24 Christ was giving instruction to those who inquired of Him about Jewish things, down to verse 44. Next, from verse 45 down to verse 31 of chapter 25, He applies to His disciples while He is away. Then, to the end, He takes up earthly things which will be known in reference to the Gentiles.

228 The bride in Revelation 19 and 21 is the church. The symbol of the "city," in chapter 2 I shews the glorious character of the saints. The heavenly people have more enjoyment than the earthly, in the same way that I get more happiness than the poor family I go to visit. They may enjoy the thing, but I enjoy something quite different. The heavenly people will be a medium of communicating blessing to the earthly.

The marriage supper (v. 9) introduces the millennium.

The "fellow-servant" (v. 10) is an angel. All that John is here is as a prophet, a servant, not as one of the church, indwelt by the Holy Ghost.

"The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." This is distinct from the gospel - His prophetic testimony, and the people are named "servants" rather than sons.

Two words are used in Revelation generally, "diadems" and "crowns." Here it is "diadems." If they gain a victory, they put on a crown; if it is to signify royal power and authority, it is a diadem.

Verses 11, 12. There is a difference between warlike and sessional judgment. This is, of course, the first. The Lord is coming out to execute judgment on the beast, who took the character of the false prophet, and was cast alive into a lake of fire, whilst Babylon was burnt with fire. "And I saw heaven opened." This expression occurs four times in scripture connected with the Person of the Lord: first, in Matthew 3, the Holy Ghost descends, and bears record that God's object of delight being on earth, heaven is open upon Him. The Spirit, as a dove, rests upon Him, and bears witness to Him as the Son of God. Secondly, in the end of John 1, the Lord says to Nathanael, "Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." It is not the Holy Ghost here, but the angels, and if those around had had their eyes opened, they might perhaps have seen them, for after His temptation angels came and ministered unto Him, and in the garden of Gethsemane one "strengthened" Him. The third time there is a difference, for the Son of man is gone up: God has taken to Himself the Objects of His delight. Then the Holy Ghost fills the saint on earth. He looks up and sees the heavens opened and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. The link is broken with earth, and the heart of the saint is taken up to heaven. The testimony of this is corrupted and lost, and we have now a great tree instead. Then here, for the fourth time, heaven is opened again, and Christ comes forth in judgment against hostile power; and, when thus opened, it is for us as well for Himself, for we belong to Him, and come with Him. "The armies which were in heaven followed him."

229 The white horse is the symbol of triumph, and He who sits upon him is called "Faithful and True," the same character in which He is presented to the church of Laodicea, though there He is the "Witness" and the "Amen." Here it is not as a "Witness," but as a Judge, and as executing judgment in the character of God, and He is always the "Amen" to that. His eyes are as a flaming fire, shewing how piercing the judgment is; and then "on his head were many crowns" - or royal glories. His name none knew but Himself. This is Christ's consciousness of what He is. So, in Matthew 11, He says, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." And why? Because no man can fathom incarnate God; and the way He maintains it is by going down and down, for "He humbled himself," and became obedient unto death," etc. But He is exalted, and "His name is called the word of God," the Revealer of God. He appears in "a vesture dipped in blood," significant of His coming forth as a warrior.

Isaiah 63 is the same scene. There He is described as treading the "winepress of Almighty God" - executing judgment indeed as Son of man; but He could not tread the winepress of God if He were not God. In His lowest services He was still God. None could have put his hand upon the leper but He without being defiled. The priest was only able to look, not to touch the leper; but here is One who could touch. It is sweet to know how near He is to us; and yet how great. His name is publicly written: "he hath on his vesture, and on his thigh, a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords."

How Paul to Timothy rests upon the glory of His Person, when he says, "the only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords," etc., "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

And Christ comes forth here to judge the quick. The subjects of His judgments are not the nations, which are connected with the throne, or sessional judgment: but here it is as seated upon a horse. This is judgment on hostile power, the place where light has been - the Gentile and the Jewish given to them by Satan - the Roman emperor, and the false or pretended Christ.

230 God sends His Son to get men out of heathenism, idolatry, etc., and they turn that into idolatry. There may well be joy in heaven when there is an end to it; for Christ now sets it all aside by judgment on the earth - but as come down from heaven. The kings and their armies gather together; but all to the setting up of the Lord Jesus Christ as Prince of Peace, and we have our position with Him, and come out with Him.

Beloved friends, it is very important to see the solemnity of the judgment about to be executed on Babylon. The effect will be to separate our hearts from all around, and keep us looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, keeping our garments white. It will be a struggle, but now are we the sons of God, and "when he shall appear, we shall be like him" - He will come out with us. May we seek to realise it even here, keeping distinct from everything that is to be judged, and our heart's desire be to see His face with joy, to be with Him who has given Himself for our portion now and to all eternity.

Revelation 20

The beast and false prophet destroyed, Satan is bound and put into the bottomless pit. Then comes sessional judgment. It includes Matthew 25, but it is not that only, for it is going on - they sit on thrones all along - through the millennium. Then Satan is let loose and deceives the nations; namely, those who are not kept by grace: he gathers them around Jerusalem, and fire comes down and destroys them all. Then follows the judgment of the dead: the 8th verse of chapter 21 finishes the book.

Revelation 22

The prophetic part of the Book of Revelation closes at chapter 21:8. Then we get from verse 9 a description of the heavenly city, in that shape and form: as to what it is, what cannot enter into it, and what it reveals. This chapter gives more the outgoings of it, the river of the water of life, [the tree of life, and the leaves of the] tree for healing of the nations, etc. This closes at verse 5, and ends entirely at verse 7. Then it was; "I, John, saw these things," and certain addresses are given which I desire to speak about; also a general truth, bringing down the light of the heavenly city on us now.

231 The Lord put Israel under the law, and there was complete failure; but still He will accomplish, in infallible power, what He had promised to Israel, for He will write His law on their hearts, He will accomplish in power to Israel what He had given in responsibility. It is the same in regard to the church - He has set it in responsibility among men now.

The practical application we should derive from these promises is, that there is nothing here morally that we ought not now to be looking for. By the power of the Holy Ghost we should have a present anticipation or realisation. Of course, when there is the full result, there will be a great difference - the body freed from sin and death, etc.; but still more, "The river of the water of life"; for it is said now, "He that believeth, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The tree of life was the manifestation of grace, the leaves being for the healing of the nations - a beautiful character of the church, to be ministering the healing power of grace. In Israel will be seen, when righteousness is reigning, "the sinner, being a hundred years old, shall be accursed." But here I find, even in the glory, the blessed principle of divine grace through which we came there. The earnest is given us now, "Christ having been made a curse for us." "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it": the immediate throne of God is now within the church. Do we not judge those who are within? The Holy Ghost also sets up His throne in the heart of the saint, because it is the witness that there is no curse; he is not judged for sin - the word of God being the judge, a discerner between good and evil according to God. When this is not accomplished, it is a testimony against the saint.

"His servants shall serve him." Now there are many hindrances and conflicts with the enemy in service; but still, what I am called on to do now will then be fully accomplished; now, as far as we are spiritual, we enter into the anticipation of it. "His name shall be on their forehead." By-and-by there will be a perfect display of Him whom we serve; but now all men ought to see the display of Christ's name in us - to speak, and walk, and meditate as He did. In the glory it will be Christ reflected in everything; so now it ought to be. The more we search into the details of the glory in this blessed book, the more shall we learn the higher blessings to enjoy. The Holy Ghost brings it out for us to anticipate now, learning the grace that comes in, and the life that flows out. God will accomplish the highest desires that now we have for our comfort and joy to anticipate; all will be accomplished. God produces desires within us that nothing but the glory can satisfy. The Holy Ghost produces the power now to enter into these things. This shews the importance of our minds dwelling there. The lovely fruit then is seen, "Whatsoever is lovely" or "of good report, think on these things." How bright the heart would be! What growing up to the knowledge and preciousness of Christ, if accustomed to be where God dwells! Christ was one over whom circumstances had no power, except to draw out God's grace; and so should we be, for He is our example. Mark the outgoings of His grace to those in need. Christ was not governed, though of course acted upon, by circumstances to shew grace, the power of His affections being drawn up to His Father: there was no effect in Christ, only expressive of what was in Him - the very fountain of life, the source of all He did.

232 "He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." Three times it is repeated. What has the Spirit of God declared? Two things have been shewn in this book. The terrible history of man's pride, and God's judgment against it. Then He takes the saint out of that scene, and sets his heart at the end of these things, even bringing before him the heavenly Jerusalem. This has always a sanctifying effect, it stops many a haughty word. In the former part of the book I see God knowing everything. This I might not be able to explain, but I see the result of all. We are called on to "keep the sayings of the book." The soul has been given a sort of gravity in the world, not to be meddling with what will be judged. The next thing - He goes a step further when addressing us, on what has been before, or going on now, or is to be hereafter: whoever receives these things may find this stay for his soul - "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." There is the rest, as to all that has been performed, and what is unaccomplished: the heavenly Bringer-in of the light that is to shine in the world - the Star of heaven to arise on this benighted world.

233 What is the spiritual feeling of the church after all has been gone through - after the terrible schism between light and darkness? What does the church say? "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." Those who have the place of the bride desire the Bridegroom, having the blessed fellowship together. Look at chapters I and 3; there you see the full expression of this. As the Faithful Witness He was seen on earth; for no man could see Christ on earth, but saw God in Him. Whether He took the little child in His arms, or comforted the poor widow whose son was stretched on the bier, all exhibited God, and I know Him as such. He is also "the First-begotten from the dead," witness to God for us, hereafter as "Prince of the kings of the earth." What does the church cry at this contemplation? The Spirit of God in her breaks forth at this revelation of joy, and says, "Unto him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." She testifies to the world, "Behold, he cometh": the church's own position is of the testimony for Christ. The Spirit cannot speak to the saint's heart without that saint giving a response. Now we get the result of all the testimony, closing with what Christ is in Himself. It turns from the city to Him who is the centre. Why am I in the golden street? Because Christ is in the midst of the city, not now washing my feet, for the place I walk on cannot defile, for it is righteousness and holiness of truth.

In the whole scene all is summed up - "I, Jesus." He must have the heart of the church, He may tell the church many things, open to them His mind: as to Abraham, it was said, "Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do?" Also says Christ, "Ye are my friends." After He has communicated what He was going to do, and done all, He says, "I, Jesus." He Himself comes and addresses the church. Beloved brethren, when the Spirit of Christ works in the heart, it says to Christ, 'It is You I want - come and bring in the glory.' "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." Not merely the bride, but the Spirit. The source and substance of what is in the heart is the Bridegroom. What is the next desire? "Let him that heareth say, Come." He calls on the saint to join and say, "Come." Those who have entered into the full apprehension say to others, "Come." This is the next step. The church at the same time has the blessing in itself, that is, the water of life, and turns round and says, "Let him that is athirst come," because we have the waters of life - not yet in all the blessed fulness, but we are sure the river of life is flowing in the heart of each saint, however feeble. Christ said this first, in John 7, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," and now sets the church in the very same place of invitation, because it has got eternal life. See here the blessed consciousness of what the church has got: salvation - no uncertainty, though many may pass through trial in getting it; but I speak of the portion of the church. "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." But what is the record? Not one of uncertainty, "and this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." There is the gospel, the answer of peace given by God to those whose souls are working in this way. Peter, in his address to the Jews, shews this: the gospel, the revelation of what is in Christ, is the answer of peace to the conscience under all the anxieties produced by having neglected Him. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," so the Christians can say, "Let him that is athirst come" - not merely say it, but go and testify to Christ as hard as ever he can.

234 "Whosoever will, let him come," is another step. There is the same certainty of having life. It comes fresh from the throne of God and the Lamb. Having the water of life, I am looking for the glory in saying all this. "Behold, I come quickly." Mark the way in which, both importunate and solemn, Jesus presses it on the hearts of His saints, to say, "Come": "I come quickly," as much as to express, 'I leave on your hearts these last words' - with which He closes the book, and solemnly adds, "Amen." The Christian again breaks out, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Whatever has been testified about, this is to be laid on the heart of the church. Could your heart say, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus"? Having heard this word of comfort and encouragement, can you say this? If you are not at peace, you cannot say so, but would rather the Lord would come and take you to-morrow, and not to-day. If I look for Him as a Judge, I cannot say, "Come." If the conscience is at peace, it does not enter into the question of sin: having blessed me with every spiritual blessing, Christ comes without sin to receive me to Himself. In practice the affections enter in. You may see a person truly in Christ, and not happy in God, not before God; the conscience active, but the affections not right there. I must have my affections in my conscience. The effect of His work is to bring me to God. The Holy Ghost sets up His throne in the heart, and judges what we are not to be judged for. If, by careless walking in the flesh, or having my interest in the world, I cannot disown my state, the Holy Ghost takes these things that are in my heart, and makes me see what I have allowed, and I get exercised, troubled, and ashamed. I doubt not of being saved, but have lost the fountain of joy. My heart cannot be in this state, if I am doing things in His house that are not pleasing to Him: I shall not like for Him to come and see I am neglecting Him. Any one of these things, contrary to His mind, will hinder our looking to God. There ought to be that sifting in the heart, that the desire of our souls may rest in confidence in the work done for us; and the desire too, that the Holy Ghost may drive away everything from our affections that is not of God, and that our affections may be so brought into our conscience, that we may say, Come, Lord Jesus; even so, come.

235 There is peculiar graciousness in this invitation to the world to come and take of the river of the water of life. Here is the authority of the church for considering herself as the bride before she really is so manifested. The angel (in verse 16, and other passages) is the representative of the Lord; even though declared to be an angel, he stands as the distinct messenger of the Lord Jesus, and speaks as His representative.

Revelation 22:16-17

The Morning Star is the place Christ has taken so as to have the church with Him in that character. Christ is the subject of prophecy as regards the earth, and then disappearing and going up: never the subject of prophecy as hid in God.

Chapter 1:5. Earthly association with Him is spoken of first. The church has her own proper place, and says, "To him who loveth us, and hath washed," etc., and then turns round to speak of His manifestation on earth. His earthly work for me was when He washed me from my sins. He is not only the "Faithful Witness" for me, but the faithful worker. In every sense He was a faithful witness for God. But we begin not with that, but, "He loveth us, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood"; we look back, too, and see He has all the rest. He has put us in the same official nearness with Himself to God - "king and priests, unto God and his Father."

236 In chapter 4 we see the church now in heaven. The judgment of the churches down here in chapters 2 and 3; judgment of the world afterwards; and then, at the close, a description of the heavenly city: "Behold, I come quickly," etc. All is closed: just as revealed at the beginning, so it is at the close. "I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches" - a personal word after the book is closed. The beginning of the book opened also with what He was.

Chapter 22:16, being in contrast with what had been said for the world, draws out the expression from the saints of verse 17; this shews our position till He comes. "The Root and the Offspring of David" is the Source of all, and the Heir of all - the holder, or vessel, in which all the blessing is set. This does not draw out the peculiar feelings of the church; but when He says, "I am the Bright and Morning Star," it calls out the expression from the church, shewing her secret or private knowledge of His own personal value. In rejection while in the world, Christ was keeping up connection with it. Death comes in: the witness closed. Then redemption's history begins - "Except the corn of wheat fall into the ground and die," etc. Moreover, when He is manifested to earth, we shall be manifested with Him. The Bright and Morning Star stands contrasted with the blessing the earth will get. Then comes the invitation of the Spirit and the church; it is Himself she wants, and, until then, she is the full vessel of the grace of God, and says, "Come." Israel is not that. They do not know relationship and deliverance in consequence of that, but they wait for deliverance out of the sorrow - "out of the depths." They groan for deliverance, that is, the coming in of power to set them free.

The hope of the church is by the power of the relationship. She is the bride, she has the Spirit, and does not wait for it. Israel says, "Thou to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself." Does the bride say that? Does she call for vengeance? No; she is waiting for the Bridegroom. It was that which closed the relationship with the world, that began our relationship with Christ. His death was the ending of that in which God could have anything to say to man as man. As connected with Him in manifestation (not union - never that), all closed at His death. I can say, I am dead, crucified with Christ, my life is hid with Christ in God. The centre and root, too, of all our relationship to God is Christ's death. Sins are gone, not existing any more: the being is gone in which they were, that is, I. We begin by death, and we are never clear unless we see that. It is not by His death I am put into union with Him, but by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven. They would not hear, killed Stephen, and the like; and then comes out this position - exclusively a heavenly Christ; and then we get the Morning Star. He is not only a Christ in heaven, but He has associated believers with Him while He does not come to the earth: His blood-shedding is the ground of it all. The revelation to Paul after this is "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Paul got the teaching of the church, and said afterwards, "I know no man after the flesh" - I know no such people as Israel on the earth - no such Head as the Messiah. My connection is with Christ risen and glorified on high. In John 14 He says, "I go to prepare a place for you." He does not say, I will prepare a place for Israel. We are going to the Father's house. We are connected with the Father and the Son by faith while waiting for Him, and we shall be with the Father and the Son by-and-by. Christ, the hope of the glory to be revealed, is the foundation of that, and therefore it is said, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." How can we tell that? We know it, for He "shall be in you." The Holy Ghost is an unseen Spirit in the world, but He is linking you with an unseen Saviour in heaven. This is our proper hope, as being of the bride through the Holy Ghost dwelling in her.

237 What is the Morning Star? The revelation of Christ to the church when He is not seen by the world - the completion of present privilege. In 2 Peter 1:19 Christ is the "day star." The allusion in this passage is to the transfiguration, recorded in the three Gospels. The kingdom is the earthly glory spoken of. The heavenly thing is the hidden part. "They feared as they entered the cloud." It was not a common cloud, but significant of the presence of God - the Shekinah, where God dwelt in connection with Israel. They did not see from without what was WITHIN. The Shekinah frightened those in the wilderness. Moses and Elias went into the cloud: the others did not see them then. The word of prophecy is confirmed by the glory revealed - a candle that shineth in a dark place. The Father was in the cloud. Moses and Elias went in, and the others could not see in. Paul only knew afterwards what was within.

238 There is to be something besides broad day. This is the night; but the Morning Star is to be seen by those watching through the night. Prophecy tells you of the day, but not of this Star. Prophecy could not tell you of the hidden Christ, "until the day dawn." Those who are waiting for the day see the dawn, and watch for the day. They do not belong to the earth (as in darkness of night), because the spared remnant on the earth are that; but they belong to heaven as well as to the power of the day before the day comes. We get Christ Himself as He will never be seen in the day. Hence in Revelation 2:28 the address to Thyatira says, "I will give him" - the overcomer, not only the glory of the kingdom, as revealed to Peter, but that within the cloud not revealed to him - "the Morning Star." Here the bride responds to Him - the Morning Star. Now I shall have my proper place. He has washed me from my sins long ago. The relationship is understood, and enjoyed - no need of explaining it. Did you ever hear a person explaining to a child what its mother is? The relationship is there. There is no explanation when He says, "I am the Bright and Morning Star." Those who have got hold of the relationship say directly "Come." They know Him as the One who has loved them, and washed them from their sins, etc., and they are within the veil. The Spirit leads the chant, "Come." The church has the consciousness in herself of the relationship, and the coming of Christ to receive the church could not be a matter of indifference; it could not be understood by a person who has not the living relationship. If I have the relationship, and He knocks, do I want an explanation of who He is before I open the door? Does the wife wait before she opens to her husband, when she knows his knock? "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Are all Christians saying, Come? No! Then what is to be done? The church is corrupt: there is the great house. But there are individual hearers; let them say, "Come." The first desire is to have Christ, and to Him she says, "Come"; the next, that all who hear should have right affections towards Christ, and say, "Come." You that hear, do you join, and say, "Come."

You get the whole circle of right affections in this verse: first, that arising from the consciousness of being the bride; secondly, desire for all the saints. Why are you lingering outside Christ? Are you waiting for judgments on the earth? There is a desire that the saints should have no hindrance to the single eye, and readiness to say, "Come," knowing the heart is not right if not saying, "Come." Then is that all? No; there is a third thing - the gracious perception, that there are thirsty souls wanting to be refreshed. She says to them, 'I have the Spirit, I have been refreshed.' The church does not say, 'Come to me' - the false church says that - but says, "Come." I have not got the pure flowing of the river yet (Rev. 22), but you come. The next thing to the supply of our own need is the discernment of the wants of these thirsty ones. We can say, I have part in the Bridegroom - I have rivers of living water. We ought to be able to say, I have got the river. Anyone can say, There are rivers; but we ought to be able to say, We have them. If our hearts are in the circle of these affections, we shall say to others, Come, and have them too. Is that all? No; there are yet others invited: "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." Thus the church is seen, first, in its full bridal place and desire for Christ's coming without a question of judgment; and so in the individual that hears His voice; then follow the invitations of grace.

239 "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."