Notes on the Revelation

J. N. Darby.

{"Notes on the Book of Revelation; to assist Inquirers in searching into that Book." London, 1839.}

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Revelation 12

In this chapter, then, we have a very clear account, not of the details of providential historical acting, but of Satan's mind, and ways, and purposes concerning the purpose of God in its inceptive character; for, as accomplished, it is clear he cannot touch it. Although I have little doubt in my mind in what events these plans of Satan will specially shew themselves, I have entered into them here very little, because God is here instructing the church what the plans are, rather than how they are accomplished, save as presenting severally the agents: and if we are not content to be instructed as God instructs us, we had better not learn at all. I desire in Scripture not to explain but to receive, and, in communicating, to say what is there, not add thoughts. This may seem a slight distinction; but the effect of the difference will soon be seen in the formation of systems, instead of actual profiting by divine instruction.

There are three distinct parts in the chapter. First, the agents; the woman in God's purpose to be delivered of a man-child (the depository of earthly power to rule the nations); the dragon ready to devour Him, whose birth and character he partially knew (for Scripture told it), and whose speedy bringing forth was now apparent. The result is, that the man-child, instead of acting in power at once, is hid, but in the place of Godhead and power, and the woman flees. Thus the direct agents are disposed of. We have, then, the second portion; in which the question is between his (the dragon's) place there, and the angelic ministrations of God's power ("His angels which excel in strength"); and the dragon loses his place in heaven (he who had deceived the whole world), and he is cast out into the earth, not properly the world. This is all the direct statement made in this portion: for the question was, ruling the nations. But then secretly this made a most important change in another thing not so open in the world, the church, dwellers in heaven, the brethren. This was the way heaven was specially affected by this event. Salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ were now come,* not till then in power. There was that which was hidden to the world and not understood, no more than Christ was, the heavenly-minded church which understands God's leading and most important meaning in these things (what was next Himself, if I may so speak). There was a witness to all Christ's glory on the terms and grounds of God's holiness in heaven, as walking in the light as He is in the light, having fellowship one with another, the blood of Jesus cleansing them from all sin, all the time that Satan was in the heavens drawing the third part of the stars - the ruler of the darkness of this world - a people who walked indeed on earth, but in spirit and title and nature, as given, dwelt in heaven; their Head being exalted above Satan, even before God, and who had suffered and shed His blood for them, though now, as yet, He had not taken His power ("all things were not yet put under him"); wherefore Satan could torment. This people Satan had been constantly accusing before God, for their inconsistencies, or falsely, in order to distract, trouble, and hinder their assurance with God, or their testimony for God. By the turning of Satan out of the heavenly places of power this conflict and accusation ceased; the heavens were cleared, that these might now declare His righteousness.

{*Should not this be, "Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ"?}

213 The actual catching up of the saints is not here mentioned, because the church should always expect it;* and because the agents and their public acts being here in question, the church (one with Christ before the Father, the mystery hidden from ages and known only by the Spirit) is not, as we have seen all through, the subject;** but the acts, as they affect the brethren, looked at in their condition here below, are noticed, because they are to reign with Christ, whose power was now come.

{*I have no doubt it is contained in the catching up of the man-child, as well as Christ Himself.}

{**It is looked at corporately only as in heaven (as we have often seen) from the end of Revelation 3. The accuser of our brethren, therefore, is spoken of; for the voice from heaven could not speak of suffering or accusation of saints there, but of those who had been liable to it on earth. On the supposition noticed above, these would be the class of sufferers still to be gathered as slain in the last testimony, or who would not worship the beast.}

214 The church united to Christ and interested in Him as her Advocate and Priest, and all those associated with the heavens, were now free. The question then was between the dragon's wrath against those who were the special scene of Christ's royalty, and the power of that Christ which was now come: the trial of the church had ceased. The subject being the rule of the nations by the man-child, all the history of what passed in the church as to this is unnoticed; only the dragon remains in heaven; the royalty not assumed: when it is, the change is noticed. Then, the power though come is not, however, immediately exercised (that is, on earth, for the heavens were already clear). The question then arises for the woman upon earth - a question of royalty and power. The sphere of this royalty and power in Christ being necessarily hated but rescued,* and Satan's hatred and animosity then directed against the remnant who were faithful to the light they had, keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus, having the light there was - the spirit of prophecy.**

{*The time of Jacob's trouble; but he is delivered out of it.}

{**We have here the important fact, that, after the celebration of the coming of salvation, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, and the casting Satan down out of the heavenly places, three years and a half elapse before his trial and persecution of the Jewish people closes; and they are the object of his hatred; and Christ does not appear in their behalf.}

The providential actual agencies follow; wherein these things are accomplished. As to the position and condition of the inhabiters of earth (of whom we have only heard as yet), for this period, thrice repeated woe (in the second, the wide unformed mass of people too included, the inhabiters of the sea).

215 We have further to remark, that (the moment the saints are introduced in their own position and character, suffering while Satan is in the heavens) the Lamb, its salvation, its strength, its joy, is at once introduced, and their victory celebrated on high. It is the natural association of the saints, as such - fellowship with the crucified One: and therefore if only one or two saints be in their place, their associations are with the Lamb.* It will be remembered that the Lamb has not been mentioned all through the historical part: that was providence; and the church was, as it were, hidden. This, in the course of external history, is its real relationship - as Peter describes it, doing well, suffering for it, and taking it patiently. The Lamb led the way in this their joy; while, as to accusation, His blood gives them access to the throne where He is.

{*The Lamb is always the suffering rejected One, who is after all the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the centre of glory. In the historical fact this takes place on the casting down of Satan, in which the kingdom and power are first displayed.}

This account in Revelation 12 of the dragon's doings, taking up the mind of God in the throne as to it, the conflict by which he is cast out of the heavens of rule, and his conduct upon earth when cast down there, was quite the suitable introduction to the history of the manner and development of it in human instrumentality; that the church might know, not merely its history, outside in the earth, but the meaning and truth of it in its elementary and radical causes and facts in Satan's position, power, and actings, relative to God's purposes. It relates to the question of ruling the nations (i.e., to Christ, as ruling, as He will, with the saints, the nations); and shews the relative position of the parties (while the man-child is caught up to God and His throne, or not actually in the scene), first in heaven, and therefore (the evil ceasing, when cast out, to affect the saints of the heavenlies) brought in thus,* by the by, when their position has changed; and then on earth as affecting the Jews, during the period in which God's purpose, and therefore those interested in it, as a body, flee, in consequence of the dragon's actings, into the wilderness, where they are nourished of God (i.e., not in the order of God's regulated covenant blessing, apparent in manifested relationship, but of God supremely as such). All this time, therefore of the dragon's prevalence in heaven first, or on earth, is the time of the hiding and apparent disregard of God's relationship with His people. Yet the object of these relationships becomes visible when the earth comes in question, and the woman, though persecuted or fleeing, is seen on earth (i.e., the Jewish body as such in connection with their place and promises, though unfulfilled). To this many of the Psalms refer - those in which God and not Lord is used as the term of relationship with the Most High.

{*This passage is a remarkable one as regards the crisis; for the joy is properly in heaven. The church, properly speaking, is not in question. A voice accordingly is heard in heaven; but it clearly expresses the mind of God in the church above; for it says "the accuser of our brethren," and has the prospect of the kingdom as now come. It is as a gleaming out of the church's joy in heaven, before the saints are manifested with Christ, on the cessation of the sufferings of those left on earth, and the clearing of the heavenlies. The voice of heaven, the church, is here rather identified with the priesthood and expectation of Christ, but that in a triumphant character, because accomplished by the casting down of Satan, and the kingdom now come, though not yet established for three years and a half upon earth

I apprehend the proper application of the catching up of the man-child, besides Christ, to be to the Church of the first-born - His body, and to be undated, save by its precedence of all ulterior events, i.e., of all events below, and even of the war in heaven; for Christ and His body cannot take their new relative place on earth, till Satan and his angels are cast down.}

216 The saints may be united to the position of the man-child when removed hence and taken to Christ; but the great signal manifestation of the first statement of the chapter was, when Christ Himself was taken out of the way. All, except that fact which characterises all, is the statement of the principles and relative position of the parties. There may be, therefore, any lapse of time between the catching up of the man-child and the subsequent actings of the Lord; for there is no note of time connected with it: the facts are resumed, or, as to results, commenced by the war in heaven. This is most signally fulfilled in its actual final accomplishment when Satan is cast out (the commencement, in their source,* of the very last events, that change the position of the saints of the heavenlies; and when also the last events on earth relative to the Jews begin to have their course). The providential agents, as far as the moral prophetic earth is concerned, and the beasts, therefore, at this point, as we have said, are thereupon taken up.

{*Although I say their source, which is true as to the administration of events and the moral state of things, yet there is passed by here (as not the subject of the chapter, and what can be hardly called an event, as changing the whole order of administration and divine government itself), - the shaking of the heavens, in order to the appearing of the sign and government of the Son of man there: but this does not properly come in here; and therefore I have only thus noticed it. Its date in the course of events may be seen in Matthew 24 and Mark 13; but it forms no part of the course of mere human events, but is a change in the heavenly administration of their order. But the war in heaven, and the consequent casting down of Satan to earth, do alter altogether the relative position of the saints, heaven, and earth. The direct administrative exercise of all this is deferred for three years and a half, to give time for the ripening of God's purposes, the separation of the remnant of the Jews in their tribulation, and the full satanic rising of the earth against heaven: but heaven could announce its joy at once, and woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea. But, the administration not being yet changed, things otherwise went on unrebuked, until the earth being worse far by this, and in satanic energy enlisted against heaven, the Son of man has to take the power into His own hands, and the administration itself is changed. Then begins the administration of the world to come, whereof we speak. This last is a most important, and scripture speaks of it as a very solemn, event. It is what I apprehend is called the end: "Then shall the end come." Sinai was the manifest beginning; though there were other points connected with it in the world and earth, to wit, Noah and Nebuchadnezzar.}

217 Revelation 13

The apostle now traces equally from its origin, the earthly circumstances of the power through which Satan operates;* and, as in the previous chapter, he first gives us characteristically the subject of the prophecy. It is not here of purpose necessarily, but of fact. Out of the floating mass of population, he sees a beast rise up. It was not now a vision in heaven, where the secret designs were carried on, but on earth, where the instruments of these designs are produced and act; here, not purpose, but fact.

{*Specially in his workings, in these last events.}

The whole character of the beast, from beginning to end, is seen, but pursued to, and therefore having its agency in, its last form. This enables us to identify the beast all through, and brings him under the character of guilt which has attached to him from the beginning, or marked the course of his protracted progress, whatever unrestrained iniquity this may shew itself in at the close. He is therefore seen rising out of the sea having all his heads and horns: on his heads names of blasphemy - he bore them high on his front; and the crowns were on his horns, which was the latter form (i.e., the imperial power divided). I do not carry this farther than being definitely characteristic; for if it were carried into detail, as at the close, we should have, assuming the identity according to the ordinary interpretation of the beasts,* three of the horns fallen. Further, this beast had incorporated the character of Daniel's three other beasts, but most of the Grecian leopard, though in ravening power and terror like the first. To this beast the dragon (he had not formed it, that is taken as the existing fact) gives his power, his seat, and great authority. Now, I doubt not, this has its full scope of positive action and manifestation from the close of the former chapter; when, in its last form, it will do Satan's work in the place of his power. But as we have the elements of things in these chapters, we have seen the beast traced from his very rise out of the sea; and whatever he so characteristically does,** when formed, comes under the designation of holding the throne and power of Satan. It will be exercised according to the character of the place where Satan is, heaven or earth, each the scene of the conflict whether Christ and His joint-heirs are to have His creation, or Satan hold it by right of the first Adam's fall and sin, the great question agitated, along with the special redemption of the church. Doubtless, when on earth it will be more definite and formal, not necessarily more important. Nor can I see why the conflict for the delivery of the earthly people and the inheritance is of more or exclusive importance, rather than what is of heaven, in which the victory and fate of the heirs is decided; though this be more secret, and known only to the church. Yet it must be remembered that that by which Satan troubles the church, while here, is that by which he holds the world. It is, then, the great characteristic fact we have here as to the beast so formed: he holds the dragon's place. I may add, I hold the beast to be simply and plainly the Roman empire.

{*i.e., of Daniel's fourth beast with this.}

{**This is an attempt to connect by general terms the protracted period of the beast's existence and the crisis, or last half week; and till the clear light of the end, this served to guide the conscience in a general way.}

218 The next characteristic of the beast was the destruction and healing of one.* of the heads or forms of government. This, observe, was subsequent to,** and not preceding, the dragon's giving him his power. And there was admiration in all the earth at the beast. The Roman empire and its corporate power became in the earth the object of their admiration, and laid hold on their minds. And they worshipped*** that infidel power and hostility to God, which had given power to the beast. The form in which this shewed itself in man was the pursuit of his own will, simply casting off the thought and principle of obedience. The shape which it assumed, or had in this history, was the dominant power of the Roman empire, not in its apostasy, but in its self-will**** and self-aggrandisement - Satan's power without reference to God - as the apostle expresses it, "the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Whether this arrives to any formal open act at the close is comparatively immaterial, save as an open act bringing down open judgment. They worshipped also the beast - honoured it as the place, and holder, and depositary of power (God being thus really put out of sight). Pride here was the characteristic - personal pride and power: "Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?"

{*That is, it was seen in this state subsequent to the healing what had received the deadly wound. I suppose the wounded head was imperial. Many considerations go, I think, to shew it, and make the point pretty clear. I doubt that it was fully developed as a beast till then.}

{**Rather it was seen subsequent to it. First, he sees the general character of the beast as a whole, and where his throne and authority, there this particular characteristic in the state in which he considers him, not of the beast in himself, but of the beast as he then saw him.}

{***Admiration implies the effect on a senseless imagination, though excited perhaps by a strong cause - not the judgment or affections.}

{****This, however, is the apostasy of power.}

219 There seems to me to be an analogy here, or contrast, in falsehood, with the gift, by the Father, of power and glory, to the Son. On the dazzling influence of this false glory and power the world hangs, and takes it as that which holds the only place of power in it, shutting practically, as we have said, God out of it: "the inheritance ours." And they hang on this evil power, to hold and keep it in human will - openly man, secretly Satan; as openly it shall be (or manifestly) Christ, and hiddenly (i.e., not in personal manifestation, save by the Son) the Father. And the world honoured the hidden and open power, as we should honour the Father and the Son, save that in us it is in the knowledge of their Persons. It was a false anticipation in deceit and power by man's will, of what we own in principle now, and shall be declared in millennial power and manifestation. Thus far we have had the fact, and Satan's doings in it.

220 We have, then, the power of mischief as it is conferred upon the beast, he being thus constituted and set up in power by Satan, and receiving Satan's place at his hand. He is then given power to shew all his will and thoughts, and to act for so long; for all these things are controlled: this with its consequences from verses 5 to 8. Consequently, we have here what was done by the beast, as before what was done to the beast, and about the beast, whether by Satan or in the earth. First was given to the beast extraordinary prevailing assumption to himself, "he spoke great things"; it is not here doing but speaking in pride; it is his character, not his acts: next, injurious words against others flowing from this pride - blasphemies; and he was to continue the characteristic period of forty-two months, or to practise, to act, for that period.* When we come to the literal use of it, then it is earthly and literal. So, on the other hand, they that dwell in heaven dwell literally in heaven. It is not merely their mystic character; otherwise it is obvious it would be the 1,260 years; and they that dwell in heaven are the heavenly-minded remnant. We have then the application of this character of the beast to its objects; "he blasphemed God." It was not here mere apostasy: that might be its actual course on earth, just denying the Father and the Son; but here it is his formal character under Satan's power. He blasphemed the "name" of God, instead of in the place of power owning its source - "and his tabernacle," i.e., the presence of God among the saints, as of the wilderness, their heavenly place, for so it was (the tabernacle was not the wilderness nor was it the temple, as in Revelation 21:22: the Jewish body was driven into the wilderness: in manifested and lasting glory, the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple). But it was the tabernacle or tent of God: this included the most holy and holy place. This heavenly dwelling-place of God with the saints he blasphemed;** he would have the earth, the inheritance, in his own way: this was an evidence there was a power beyond all this. He blasphemed also those who were characterised by this dwelling-place - dwellers in heaven, the saints of heavenly places. This, as regards heavenly things, was what characterised the church, which sits in heavenly places. Further, it was given him to make war with the saints and overcome them here on earth. Satan they overcame, see Revelation 12:11;*** but in present physical persecution the beast overcame, and prevailed against the saints. It is not, however, here a question of individual death, but of prevalence, as in chapter 12:11. But he had the day on earth, for this was not redeemed nor vindicated to Christ yet. This is true also as regards (within the range of the beast) the long protracted period of years, and on earth**** in the crisis among the Jewish people.***** The next characteristic was, "power was given him over all kindreds, tongues, and nations": this still was characteristic. It was to be the dominant power on the earth, assuming and giving authority over the various subject nations.

{*This must be taken for the last period of half the week, if taken in crisis and applied to the full manifestation of his character, which the verse seems to do. It is no part of this passage to say it is the last half week, but merely to attach to the beast the characteristic period of his continuance. But it gives that period as the duration of his practising.}

{**This is all he could do now. Satan the accuser was cast out of heaven, and indeed the saints are there. The beast's tendencies would have pleased the Jews before. Now it persecuted the saints on earth too. The other Jews would be how in rebellion.}

{***This had been previously to this period, which commenced on the closing of that by the casting down of Satan. Up to that they had suffered actual death; at least they had not loved their lives unto death.}

{****But I doubt that there is any dated period connected with verse 7. It is characteristic, not a question of time.}

{*****The elect there are saved as regards the flesh [save those who. being killed, get a heavenly portion, the saints of the heavenlies of Daniel and those particularly noticed as not worshipping him, in Revelation 20, here].}

221 There was another point connected with this manifestation, not exactly characteristic, as given to him, but a consequence, a resulting fact. All the dwellers upon earth should worship him. Their character we have already noticed - those who, living within the sphere of the application of the world and its light, the formed scene of God's revealed moral providence, have not their citizenship in the heavens (Phil. 3:20), are not dwellers in heaven, and as strangers and pilgrims seek a country, but "dwell upon the earth." These were not written (for such was the security of the others) from the foundation of the world, in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain - characterised, not only by the Book of life, but by the sufferings* of the Holy One, with whom they were associated as strangers and pilgrims: "He that hath ears to hear let him hear."

{*This will have its literal force in crisis in the land.}

222 There is a great principle connected with all this working and character of the beast upon earth, "he that leadeth into captivity shall go there"; so it will be with him: but God will not depart from His principles. He that uses the oppressing power shall be oppressed: the Lord will judge it, be it where it may; "he that killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword." The saints' part is to suffer, to endure the continuance of evil, while God permits it and power is given to it. If the saints meddle with its principles and avenge themselves here, they must suffer its consequences here: "they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Patient suffering is the saints' place, as Christ's.* They are not to take the beast's character, because they suffer under it: it is warring with God's providential government, which leaves him thus to practise. The Book of life is the book of the life of the Lamb slain.

{*"If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God," says the apostle Peter.}

Such was the grand secular power recognised in connection with the purpose and plans of God during this time - to which Satan's throne and power was given. This is no description of a personal Antichrist at all, but the characteristic description of the corporate power of the beast. Antichrist's deadly wound, for example, was never healed. The haste which applies passages to an object (because there may be other passages which prove an important link of the subject of the former with that object), often deprives us of a vast deal of the instruction of the word of God, and deters those from pursuing that link, who have seized the neglected parts which are now, by a particular absorbing interest, all set aside. The terror of the day of Antichrist is not characteristic of the saint: he has, it seems to me, a consciousness of his union with the Lord and gathering to Him, which sets him above the terror of Antichrist's power, or of the day of the Lord upon him. We have had the sign of Satan as the dragon in heaven, a secret for the church, for those who saw things there.

We have had the beast arise out of the sea (the tumultuous movings of the nations, the mass of peoples), and, so formed, Satan give him his power, and throne, and great authority. Now, out of the formed arrangement of the scene of God's moral providence, the subject-place of light and darkness, the earth, we have another beast come up. In form of power he was like the Lamb, not in real meekness and suffering; but he took the similitude of His power; yet his utterance, his voice, his expression of himself, having this form of power, was like the dragon, the great hostile power of Satan himself, prevailing over the stars of heaven, and persecuting on earth: a very strange and singular combination - the similitude of the power of Christ, in form - of Christ in His kingly power as Messiah, yet who had been the rejected Lamb (it was not of the Son of man openly); but the expression of the character of Satan when he spake. We have still, as a beast, a corporate oppressing power, as such, though, in some sense, an individual may actually wield its power;* but it is not the force of the symbol "beast." Power so concentrated is rather a horn, though there may be close connection between them. This did not set aside the existence of the first beast, but was of another character; yet "he exercises all the power of the first beast," before the first beast, in his presence - still a very singular position. His power, however, is not, as such, over kindreds and tongues and nations, but localised, and acting on men's minds in influence when subject - not subjecting secularly nations. He causes the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship the first beast; but to worship him as bearing this character, "whose deadly wound was healed."** It is in this restored state or headship-form of government of the beast that he does this. It is not the horns he makes them worship, but the beast, whose deadly wound (of one of his heads) was healed. Such is his character. Lamb-like as he may be in the form of his own power, he wields the power of the first beast before him; that is one point: another, he makes the earth and dwellers on it - carnal-minded men - worship the first, whose wound was healed: these were distinct points; for the whole character is here given. As to his own doing, there is the open exhibition of judicial power as of God: it was not (like the witnesses) "fire out of their mouth," a testimony made good in judgment, but "fire down from heaven" in the sight of men - the apparent exercise of God's judgments (as Elijah*** did) outwardly. All this, remark, is an ecclesiastical or spiritual power - a power ostensibly connected with divine things falsely, for it is evil - but ostensibly, and verified to the eyes of men by the exhibitions of power.

{*As the eighth head was the beast.}

{**The trials under the beast are distinct from the mere preservation of purity; and the final warning to have nothing to do with the beast comes after the announcement of the fall of Babylon. Hence, we have the celebration of the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have kept themselves pure; and afterwards, distinct, those who have got the victory over the beast. It does not follow that some of them may not have been involved in both trials, or have kept themselves from one, and suffered under the other, but they are treated as distinct subjects; and there may be those who are under the trial of the beast's actings, in general, preparatory to his final conflict in Judea, who have never been in the circumstances, at any rate fully, of the hundred and forty-four thousand. They are numbered before Babylon falls. The warning against the beast has its peculiar force after. That Revelation 13 has had accomplishment in the protracted period of years, may easily be understood; and if applied to what is closing, its application is rather preparatory, not final; when the second beast falls, as a false prophet merely (his secular character as a beast gone), this change has taken place in him; he has lost his secular character and power as a beast, and is merely a false prophet. It seems to me that all this is previous to the last actings of Antichrist in Judea as the wilful king* they are quite distinct in character. This is preparatory in order to bring them, the dwellers on earth, into his subjection, and carry them with him. The whole, save the period of his blasphemous continuance, is not here date, but character, or doings. He may draw after him the Gentile dwellers upon earth in this way; and, when in the land, the same process may locally and specifically continue there. The only date to the second beast is the restoration of the wounded (as I suppose) imperial head.}

{{*This is a very important remark, which had long passed out of my mind. I doubt its being quite exact, in saying "all this is previous." It is distinct in character; but both may go on together and in its distinct form at the end apply to Palestine, though dwellers on earth be still characteristic. When the beast falls in Palestine, the second beast is merely viewed as a false prophet; his person as kingly seems superceded by the beast's presence. As in Isaiah 24, the difficulty is as to the force of earth. The whole passage requires maturer consideration. Note, the world, and kindred, tongues, and nations are not formally put under the influence of the second beast.}}

{***Note here how solemn it is that he should give the sign, which under Elijah was test of Jehovah being God; and in 2 Thessalonians 2, what in Acts 2 is the proof of Jesus being the Christ.}

224 Moreover, he does miracles on the earth, by which he deceives those that dwell on it, whose character we have so often seen, and leads them to set up a resemblance of the beast whose deadly wound was healed - this great corporate system, with a formal headship - and to give breath to and thus apparently vivify this image to exercise controlling authority - not to kill, but to cause to be killed, those who did not worship this image. This was the doing of this second beast, the spiritual being; they had power to do this. It is not said, he had them all killed, but he had power to cause all this.*

{*I repeat the remark of the note on pp. 223, 224; all this is characteristic, not of time, save the restoration of the imperial head.}

225 But he did oppress in earthly things; he caused all to receive "the mark of the beast" (in profession or service, as slaves), and would allow no man to buy or sell, "save he that had the mark"; or if he had "his name" it would do, though perhaps not thus actually a slave - or "the number of his name." A person might be a ruler or leader in this system, and then, though not actually a slave, he would have the character of it yet more indelibly and intelligently stamped upon him. The name and the number of the name would be there. I do not pretend to wisdom - indeed, far from it; but I find, if the Lord means such a sense, tradition as well as apostasy gives the number of his name. As I have said in the note, these seem to me not the last actions in crisis, but the character of the preparatory agents: we shall see the results afterwards.* That which is formal, and not subservient in their character, may continue and hold its place during the crisis - for example the blasphemy; for this was on his heads, it was characteristically part of himself, not particular subservient conduct. Both these parties are found at the judgment which closes the last three years and a half; but the last is found, not exactly in the same form, but, if I may so speak, in an exceedingly narrowed character; for the moral operations previous to the last critical period are very different from the conduct and its consequences which fill up that period, though the parties may be the same, and have just the same spirit really. The characters here are of much wider extent, having their description comprehensively given here, as Satan's designs previously.

{*We have the distinction of periods, I think, very distinctly marked in Daniel 7. The character of the little horn - the last evil form of presumption against the Most High in the beast - we have in verse 8: that is, its character before God. The prophet saw this till the thrones were set; in 9 and 10, judgment set and books opened, not now the time of testimony. Then again he beholds till the beast was slain (v. 11), because of the little horn's great words. After this, the Son of man's kingdom is spoken of as given; this in connection with the Lord. The saints, whether of the heavenly places or simply saints, are introduced in the explanation (v. 21); the character of the horn, as to the saints, is given - saints, whether of the heavenlies or not - it is the horn's character. Then this is till, first, the Ancient of days comes; then, judgment is given to the saints of the heavenlies; thirdly, the saints, heavenly or on earth, possess the kingdom. As to the acting of the little horn explained, we have, first, his presumption against the Most High; next, he wears out the saints of the heavenlies, and takes the Jewish times and festivals into his power, and they are given up to him for a prescribed period; then, the judgment sits, as in the close of verses 10, 11. Verse 25 seems to me, then, properly the three years and a half antecedent to the commencement of the judgment or the judgment-sitting; after that there is a process goes on to take away, to consume, and to destroy; and then the kingdom, under the whole heaven, is given to the people of the saints of the Most High, thus connecting the earthly people at Jerusalem, the city of the great King, with the heavenly people.

Chapter 8 I conclude to be an entirely different and opposed enemy; and I believe the confounding the Assyrian and Antichrist* has much tended to obscure prophecy, and embroil the mind as to the simplicity of its statements. One is the enemy of Christ as coming from heaven with the saints; the other His enemy, as associated with the accepted remnant of the Jews at Jerusalem. I see no reason to suppose that "they shall be given into his hand" (Dan. 7:25) means the saints, but rather times and laws.}

{{*Or even the beast, for I do not hold the first beast as the personal Antichrist.}}

226 Revelation 14

The historical process of the Lord's dealings follows. Special details of the objects and character of His judgments succeed. In Revelation 15, as I have said, there is a new great sign seen in heaven. The description of the secret agency and the providential instruments on earth has finished. The gracious effects of divine grace and spiritual power, with open testimony and judgment, follow here. Mount Zion is a modification of what was before seen. It is not yet the Lord returned in judgment - then He is the Son of man. And here we have, subsequent to this, the patience of the saints under the prevailing power of the beast and his image, and afterwards "blessed are the dead," and the Son of man reaping the harvest of the earth. Moreover, we have a new song* sung before the throne, and before the elders, which song none but the "hundred and forty and four thousand" could learn; so that we are not dissociated from heavenly places, for this throne was set in heaven. Yet Zion was not the place of the temple, but the place of royalty: but, first, of grace - the place of God's connection, in grace, with the earth before the temple was built, where David had prepared a place for the ark - contrasted with Sinai, the place of law to the earth - whence, too, the law was to go forth in grace from the city of the great King, that "Zion that bringeth glad tidings." See Isaiah 3:2, and 40:9.

{*This is a very important epoch. In Revelation 5:9, they sing a new song. There was new subject of praise when the Lamb who was, in the midst of the throne took the book, and assumed the development of what was to introduce the inheritance. The redeemed could say then, "They shall reign," although the Lamb was still above, and the action of His power was only heavenly or providential. Here, the Lamb, not having yet laid aside this character and assumed that of Son of man, and judge, and warrior, yet is associated with earth, and stands on mount Sion. And therefore they sing a new song before the living creatures and before the elders: these not themselves taking a part in it (for it was not the mystic church's portion, nor the great witness therefore of redemption for creation), but a special occasion of praise on the Lamb's taking a place on Mount Sion, and associating Himself, though in a special manner, with the earth [the once rejected Messiah].}

227 Here, then, anticipatively of the time when the Lord God and the Lamb should be the temple of the heavenly Jerusalem, when withal on earth Solomon's glory should be all displayed, stood a Lamb, maintaining still this character, not yet appearing in that of Son of man, but now drawing towards His royalty, towards the earth, yet associated with His suffering people still, and with the perfect number of the remnant, having His Father's name on their forehead, the manifestation of the character plain upon them in grace connected with Him.* Their great characteristic was, having kept themselves pure. The dwellers upon earth, we read afterwards, had been made drunk with the poison of Babylon's fornication, but these had kept themselves pure though Babylon was not yet fallen. They were redeemed from among men, from the earth - a peculiar people in the power of their lives, in the midst of those professors, while Babylon stood - not the reign of Christ in blessing, not the widespread promulgation of the gospel, but purity, as an undefiled few, following the Lamb, the holy Sufferer.

{*This seems to me, as in John, the Father's name declared as He then revealed it, and as Christ said, "My Father, of whom ye say that he is your God."}

Though the world might have slighted them, as an unknown people, yet the full perfect remnant of them was here found assembled. And as Zion, as we have said, was the place where the ark was before the temple was built (and the temple was the type of the established glory), so here we find them assembled on Mount Zion; yet we are still in close connection with the heavenly places; for the new song is sung before the throne and before the elders. The harvest and dealings of the Son of man are subsequent to this and the fall of Babylon. These are redeemed from the earth (while the earth* went on, i.e., the earth as described in the two preceding chapters) to be firstfruits to God and the Lamb.**

{*The second beast had caused the earth to worship the first beast.}

{**This, taken in the crisis, would seem to imply that, besides the church, properly so called, whose place was in heaven, and, in that sense, the earth done with, there would be a remnant redeemed from the earth still connected with the Lamb (i.e., the Sufferer owned by the name of His Father) and learning a song sung before the throne, and before the elders - a peculiar class, and having a song thus specially theirs. They were a firstfruits redeemed from the earth, redeemed from among men. The body of the church, in its heavenly character, had passed out of the scene before - had nothing to do with the earth. The refusing the beast after is for preservation in an earthly place - a preservation enforced by a warning of unmingled wrath in the presence of the holy angels, the ministers of His providence, and of the Lamb, the Sufferer, whose grace, and power, and title, they refused and rejected in the great controversy. These hundred and forty-four thousand are more circumstantially like the Lord in His earthly portion and taking up They were not corporately looked at as the bride of Christ, but as holding a special place as virgins - still, as contrasted with the harlotry of evil in the protracted period, the remnant peculiarly and separately preserved - in the crisis, a special remnant which we have noted.}

228 We meet with this connection for the first time formally expressed. It seems to me connected with fidelity during corruption, during which the mediatorial work of Christ was confounded, corrupted, or denied, as the mediatorial glory is described by the terms "Throne of God and the Lamb,"* "The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it," etc. So, in the true bride, contrasted with the great whore that did corrupt the earth with her fornication, we have the elect or heavenly church (which is spoken of, therefore, as coming down from heaven) contrasted with that earthly system which connects itself with the kings of the earth. It is the Lord God that judges her. The kings of the earth have their war with the Lamb. "Firstfruits to God and the Lamb" seem to imply separation from the evil of the one, and suffering in faithfulness to the Lamb, from the unbelief of the other. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes, and are without fault before the throne of God. It is not properly the Father's** house they are received into, as identified with Himself - as hidden in heavenly places. It was deliverance from this corruption as regards worship, that formed a prominent part of the next of the seven messages of this chapter - a public general announcement for all to hear, of the everlasting*** gospel, declaring judgment on subsisting things, and calling for true worship to recognise God in the supremacy of His ministrations as the source of all things. The connection of the hour of His judgment being come and the call for true worship, supposes a gospel preached in the midst of apostasy and corruption before the judgment. I believe the principle**** of this began at the Reformation (though it was by no means the accomplishment of it), and that it will not be fulfilled till the testimony to all - even the heathen nations - for a witness, be fulfilled. The striking feature is the announcement of the hour of God's judgment***** being come. The next messenger announces the fall of Babylon. The particulars of this are more fully given us farther on; but getting its place in the course of events is of great moment, which is given us here. The beast and his image still continue, but things are now closing in; for the warning is next given, If any man worship him, he shall be made to drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation. This, therefore, is the point of patience and faith now for the saints, keeping entirely aloof from all connection with the beast; for as yet it was a prevailing though judged power.

{*[We must not confound the throne of God and the Lamb, and the revelation of the Father in the Son: our revelation of God is the latter, blessed be His name. The former is governmental glory. There is an analogy in the protracted period; but salvation ascribed to God and to the Lamb, and firstfruits from the earth, introduce the millennium. See following note.]}

{**They were, rather, a witness of the purity of the throne and of the Lamb, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, for what became Him in the earth, and therefore, in the full sense, are the dawn of that bright and blessed morning of the earth from the Creator and Redeemer of it.}

{***Everlasting I take to be distinguished from any temporary or provisional good news. Canaan was a gospel to Israel; the birth of Christ in the flesh was good news to Israel. But this is the everlasting gospel - the full complete promise of the results in the Son of man, formed on the intentions and rights of God; and that as by redemption. It involved, therefore, the kingdom; though, in some cases, only the basis might be laid. Any diligent student of the gospels will see the transition, from promises presented to the Jews in the Person of Christ in the flesh, to this everlasting gospel. Of this it is said, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God"; and then earthly things and heavenly are brought in.}

{****[The time given to Jezebel to repent was, so to speak, run out then. Chapter 2.]}

{*****When the everlasting gospel then goes forth, it is not the bringing in a universal state of blessedness, but a call to fear God amongst widespread apostasy of all sorts, "for the hour of his judgment is come," as "this gospel of the kingdom must first be preached to all nations, and then shall the end come," i.e., of the age. And this last, while I fully recognise what precedes as involving the principles, is the strong final sense of the passage, and therefore, as noticed in the preceding note, God is announced as a Creator, who had a right to His creatures, and presented Himself as such to men on the earth, as against all their idolatries, resuming (first in testimony) His place as God in the earth. Babylon, which had been the great corrupter of the earth, and the centre of idolatry, is next judged of God.

There is another point connected with the hundred and forty-four thousand and the everlasting gospel. The hundred and forty-four thousand are redeemed from the earth, where the testimony is already a redemption from the midst of prevailing evil in the limited sphere so designated - in the crisis, probably, entirely confined to the land. Before the judgment ("the end") comes, the everlasting gospel goes out afresh to the nations (many of them, doubtless, in actual idolatry) to announce the coming judgment, and to testify the good news of the coming millennial kingdom and blessedness. These two spheres - earth, and people and tongues and nations and languages - we have noticed as contrasted in repeated instances.}

230 But now the patience of the saints (who suffered even to death, at least) closed. They were the happy ones; they rested from their labours, and their works followed them.

On the announcement of judgment on those that worshipped the beast or his image, or received his mark, and of the trial being the point of the saints' patience, a voice was heard from heaven; not the next progressive providential announcement (for it was no part of providence or dealings below), but the heavenly declaration of the decreed state of the saints, to whom this place was now publicly assigned in the economy of God. Death of the saints was now quite done with; and the blessedness of those of whom this was the portion was brought to light (not yet by their public manifestation on earth, but by the announcement from heaven to the ear of faith, that the time was come): a blessedness to which the Spirit, who had been their secret strength in labour, and even to death, now, with the same understanding and sympathy in joy, adds its "Yea." This introduction of the Spirit is very beautiful in this connection. When the earth was coming into blessing, they could not be left out in the testimony of Him who had suffered with them. It will be seen that, on the introduction of grace to the earth ("the Lamb on Mount Zion"), all that follows in this chapter relates to the earth; but then, by the voice from heaven, the portion of the saints is thereon given. Their portion is given, too, as in the reward of glory, at least in announcement: "Their works do follow them." This refers to manifestation in glory. (Compare 2 Thessalonians 1.)*

{*In the protracted period, verse 13 would refer, I apprehend, to the announcement of that blessedness of the saints, which the harvest, looked at as in Matthew 13, in its application to them, would accomplish - in the crisis, to their manifestation in this. This distinction is only what we actually find in the interpretation of that parable in Matthew. In the parable, the tares are gathered in bundles in the field, and the wheat into the garner: in the explanation, the tares are burned in the field, and the righteous shine forth. This is precisely the difference, and only this, I make here. The harvest and vintage are two acts of judgment, the harvest being of much wider scope; and, accordingly, in it there is not clear riddance of the corners of the field as to the wheat. It may distinctively clear and take the wicked, leaving those spared for earthly blessing. The vintage is pure vengeance on a specific object (the religious system), which has its character from earth - in the crisis, I apprehend, Jewish. Its grapes are now fully ripe. This vengeance is actual earthly judgment: "blood came out of the wine-press" far and wide. It was an actual and dreadful judgment in the land. All these - all the contents of this chapter - are God's religious warnings or dealings with the earth.}

231 Anything the beast does after this is not mentioned here. It is the account of God's dealings as towards the earth (the condition of the saints having been stated in passing). The next step therefore is the "harvest of the earth" - the execution of separating judgment in it; which was the actual accomplishment of the announcement of the previous verse - at least as regards its consequences in earth.

Then comes the vintage, which is pure wrath, not discriminating judgment. All the grapes of that which had the form of His people upon earth are trampled in the wine-press of God's wrath. This was done "without the city," not yet mentioned since Revelation 11. And there, notice, it was "men" were slain; here, it is "blood came out": the destruction is dreadful.*

{*There may be an application of what passes in this chapter to the crisis; and, in such case, many dates would be ascertained, but the application is less particular of part. Thus the song, being before the throne of God, must be taken only as the commencing association of heavenly with earthly things, and the recognition of the earthly by the heavenly powers. The Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, would recognise the return of the Jews into suffering associated with the Lamb amongst them in grace (that is, of a remnant among them). The everlasting gospel would then be strictly that mentioned in Matthew, "the gospel of the kingdom" (i.e., that Christ was just coming in His kingdom), which I have no doubt will so go out in all nations before the end. The fall of Babylon would precede the harvest of the earth, and then the last time of trouble would be to the Jewish people such as never was, and Michael would stand up for them, and the sanctuary at length be cleansed. In this case, I am inclined to think, the vine of the earth would be rather the Jewish part of profession, as in Isaiah 65 and 66. Such judgment is certain. But there will be also the apostasy to be destroyed; but that is rather in war against the royalty of Christ then, and has assumed a worse form than mere apostasy or profession. Viewed in this light, "without the city" would, in the general application, refer to the great city of the corporate Roman empire; in the application in crisis it would, as before, be taken for Jerusalem.

In the application in the text (p. 229) of the claim of true worship, there are most important principles - the acknowledging God, not man, as the source in creative power of every blessing, or order of blessing, or power, or streams and fountains of true influence, and consequent condition of men - than which there cannot be a more important principle possible for daily use. The sense given above in the text I believe to be the most important for the church in the present time.}

232 This passes then from redemption out of the really apostate earth, seen in the one hundred and forty-four thousand, when redemption from amid profession was necessary, to the dealing of God, first in testimony, and then in judgment, with evil in all its forms as to men, the beast being reserved in judgment for a fuller description. This was rather the judgment of men and their corruption under those circumstances, the Lamb's open war and victory being another thing. This is God's judgment of the state of things, not the Lamb's war with hostile power.

We have here, then, a general prospective view of God's dealings with the subject - apostasy (for subject it is to Him) first, saving His saints out of it, preserving them pure; then testimony; then judgment.

233 Revelation 15 and 16

Chapter 15 begins a new sign and a distinct subject. No longer various parties in heaven with consequent effects - the child caught away, and the patience and faith of the saints - but the plain statement of the wrath of God being completed or fulfilled: not here, observe, the judgment and victory of the Lamb over the beast; that is all special and administrative, connected with the exhibition of the power and effect in their followers.

Here was "another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels" (this was providential government, not the Lamb or Son of man) "having the seven last plagues." The sea was seen before the throne. Here it was seen, not only in its fixed purity, but this connected with trial - judicial trial. But on it, having now gotten the victory, stood those who had overcome the beast, and his image, and his mark, and the number of his name. Neither secular persecution nor deceitful power had prevailed over those faithful kept ones. They had the "harps of God" - divine and well-tuned joy. The song they sung was of a double character - the victory of God's power, the song of Moses - Jehovah Elohim Shaddai's works were "great and marvellous"; and the truth and justice of the ways of the King of nations* - the song** of the Lamb. It was not only for power exhibited; but, as the saints, they understood, in the Spirit of the Lamb, the justice and truth of His ways: so they celebrate the coming recognition of the Lord. Now His judgments were made manifest, who should not fear Him? For He only was holy: all else had failed. The Lord alone was to be exalted.

{*This is acknowledged to be the true reading.}

{**Though this chapter be a distinct sign, yet, like the eleventh and twelfth, it is not unconnected. It seems to apply itself to those who have passed through the fire - not merely escaped corruption when Babylon prevailed. And the judgment is not now the fall of Babylon and a warning against any's receiving the mark of the beast, but judgment and plague on those who had; the faithful being out of the way on the sea of glass mingled with fire. They had suffered, but were therefore out of the way of the judgments: still the judgment is in the earth.

In subject it follows, but is not, I apprehend, chronologically consequent, but a distinct design, more secular in its general character of judgments and dealings. The last of the saints too, not left on earth, were now out of the way. Compare Revelation 14:13.}

These had gotten the victory over everything of the beast. They were conspicuous in joy, consequent on this, before the throne of God, the elect remnant, faithful under the beast's power.* There was a complete and final separation. They are not here seen as come forth to judgment with the Lamb, or on their thrones, for He is not yet so manifested, but singing His song. (Compare Psalm 92.) The judgments were on those who had the mark of the beast, not yet on the beast; that was by the Lamb coming with the saints. From these they were entirely exempt - seen in heaven. Faith may anticipate it; but the full actual accomplishment of this would be on the rapture of the victors, taking of the victors, to their scene of glory. They were not under the altar, nor necessarily killed; but they had the victory, refusing the mark of the beast.

{*The imperial head subsisted in the apostolic times - Caesar. It may be noticed that that head was destroyed in the West, and, taken in the protracted sense, was restored and continued with the continuance of the hierarchy and the pope set up at Rome, who had the character of the image here described. Any further or more literal accomplishment of it will have its place more fitly in a subsequent chapter.}

234 The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was now seen opened. In Revelation 11 it was the ark of the covenant that was seen securing all for His people, while the power of evil remained unpunished; here, the tabernacle of His testimony. For judgment was to go forth according to His word. His judgments were made manifest, but for the deliverance of His earthly people according to that word. The deliverance of the saints is judgment, the judgment of the wicked. This was according to His governing power over creation in providence. One of the four beasts gave the angels the vials - vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. The return is to past dispensation and circumstance in this wrath, to Him whom we saw sitting on the throne before they were opened, according to that character in which He judges by and from Himself. The glory of God now displayed itself (i.e., not in bright blessing), but in the power and influence of His judgment, as Sinai smoked, and "there went up a smoke out of his nostrils." "The tabernacle of the testimony was opened," but not the callings of grace or warnings, but for the execution and manifestation of judgments. It was not a time of testimony, in this sense, but of judgment, and no one could come into the temple: and, as the Lord speaks of the land, telling them their testimony would close ("These be the days of vengeance, Flee!"), so here (the saints first removed), it is no longer a time of reception but of judgment. Separation having been made (i.e., within the range of the beast's influence), no one could now enter into the heavenlies: and the earthly people who had taken and received the mark of the beast were judged.

235 The judgment as yet, however, was not one of destruction. The heavenlies* and the earth were now separated; and instead of entering into the former, judgment was flowing from them on the latter. But it was not the actual judgment of the quick by the Son of man, but providential dealings of the wrath of God as such, and the wrath filled up in them.

{*I doubt, as to the crisis, that the heavens were yet changed - whether these signs did not belong to the old heavens}

I do not say that this is the last woe. But we have here that which was connected with it, "Thy wrath is come"; and I am disposed to think all that follows in that verse, though other things are mentioned also here. But as the woe in Revelation 12, pronounced on the descent of Satan, was on the earth and on the sea, when he was cast out of heaven, so here, on the distinction between heaven and earth and closing of the heavenlies (the saints being on the sea of glass), the judgment sent on the earth falls on the earth and sea too.

First, it was "poured" in the stricter sense "on the earth … a grievous sore." A manifested plague from God fell on the men who had received the mark of the beast, and who worshipped his image. Next, all form of life was turned into death in the mass of the population, "and every living soul" (they are not spoken of as written in the book of life; but those who externally had life) "died." The profession of being alive to God was blotted out of the mass of unformed nations.

The sources of the state of the population became also the form and power of death - the just judgment of those who had put the saints to death. These were general judgments on the mass and on their condition. Griesbach reads, "I heard the altar saying." "Another out of the altar" would apparently mean another angel, which would be unsuited to all the force of these images. The force of "the altar" generally is clear; because the slain saints are looked at as offered, as burnt offerings to God. Compare Revelation 6:9-10. And the altar may be here heard to cry, as the witness of all this slaughter of the saints of God. I hardly think one saint would give this testimony from under or out of the altar. If the ordinary reading be correct, then an angel announces it out of the altar, recalling the mind to their having been in their death as burnt sacrifices to God.

236 The fourth angel deals with the supreme power over the earth. But its effect was only to make it hotter. Men suffered from intolerable tyranny now; they would not he subject to God - now they only blasphemed Him.

The fifth poured out his vial on the throne of the beast, which was really Satan's throne, the seat of his dominion and power. The effect was darkness and confusion; and they, the people of his dominion, "gnawed their tongues for pain." The beast and his armies, his active evil and mischief, are not in question now; the vial was poured upon his throne. There God's judgment reached him, in the other the Lamb's. The pains and sores here connected seem to identify this class with the first. God had still, to them, only the character of the God of heaven.

Under the sixth, that which flowed through, and gave its strength, character, and prosperity to Babylon was dried up; that "the way of the kings from the sun-rising might be prepared." The final destruction of Babylon and the final combats still remained.

There is reference here plainly to the position, of the Euphrates. It is not, I conceive, the kings "of the east," but the kings who came from the east, from the sun-rising; chap. 16:12. This drying up of the great river Euphrates prepared their way. I suppose, from other passages, the Euphrates will, at any rate temporarily, be dried up for Israel to pass over; but I do not see that this passage applies to it in the midst of a symbolical prophecy, the vial being said to be poured out on it. It is commonly, from a previous passage, considered that it is the drying up of the Turkish power: it may be so, or at least there may be something analogous, taking the whole chapter in a subordinate and preparatory sense, which I believe it has had and is having in our own days (as I have expressed of other chapters, only over a longer period). Such application I believe this chapter has had; and this falls in consistently with the whole plan of the protracted scheme of prophecy, because the second beast loses its character as a beast and becomes a false prophet before the final close.

The saints in Revelation 15 had their victory over the effort to make them worship the image of the beast; but it was the second beast, not the false prophet, who sought to make them worship the image of the first. But here he has the character of the false prophet, so that thus far (i.e., in principle) the victory had been obtained and could be celebrated, by the Spirit, for the church. But when we come to a more positive fulfilment of judgment, and the actual bringing it into effect, on the separation of the saints out of the scene, and the closing the testimony of grace which gathered into the heavenlies, then there must be something more distinct, something which makes way for the eastern kings to take their part in the great catastrophe. The barrier and resources of the western Roman empire were dried up, so that the way for this coming in of the kings from the east was prepared. Thereon it is, that the unclean spirits go out to gather the kings of the whole world to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.

237 Chapter 14 had given, so to speak, the ecclesiastical dealings of the Lord; and testimony in grace was there. In Revelation 15 we have the separation of the saints appropriated to the heavenlies; and then, in Revelation 16, the judgment on the earth, reaching primarily those who had received the mark: all this in relation to God - subjection and fidelity to Him - not the Lamb nor the Son of man wielding His power as King of kings and Lord of lords.

But upon this judgment* (the drying up of the Euphrates) the last struggle must commence; and Satan uses all his energies to prepare his forces: but it is only for the battle of the great day of God Almighty. This is done (being a vision in the midst of the course of the judgment) by the influence and principles of the positive exercise of infidel self-will and enmity to Christ's power, the concentrating spirit of empire in the beast (the Roman power), and the spirit of Antichrist here (having changed its secular power as a beast for its false influence on minds as a prophet). We see the sort of place this holds in Judah in Jeremiah's time, and with Ahab, etc.: the manner of it may be different, but it exercises this guiding character in apostasy (the power to be wielded being held by another).

{*Although I do not doubt this will have an actual physical accomplishment in gathering of the nations or their powers and armies to battle, yet, as that which concerns us all, I would say that in that which the church is entitled to understand - the more hidden working of the enemy in principle - this is just going on: that a moral, and so far partial, fulfilment of what preceded has taken place, and there is that which morally gathers them now taking place, so that we have a date of locality as to the church's spiritual judgment and position given: the separation then only marked in character, and morally also.}

238 These three gather the kings of the whole organised habitable earth to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. But now Christ was nigh at hand. All this went on with multiplied human plans perhaps, but to the saints it was the sign that Christ was at hand. "And he gathered them together." Who is He? This was the power and providence of God by Christ, I apprehend: whatever the satanic influence or instrumentality, it was done, if through that, by Him. The spirits were to go forth to gather; and they gathered: but it was really the Lord's doing in judgment. Compare Micah 4:11-13,

This battle, the scene of the Lamb's judgments, against whom the hatred and opposition was, is reserved for His coming forth, and the display of His power. We have an intimation of its connection with Hebrew localities: the place has a Hebrew name, Armageddon. But this comes in here by the bye; for it is the account of God's wrath, and the gathering is all that has this character providentially. If there be allusion to the place and term Megiddo, I should suppose it was, of the two, rather Judges 5 than the case of Josiah.

The seventh vial was poured into the air, that which affected the whole scene below, the place of universal government and influence. The wrath was still in the earth: so in fact, in all And now a voice from the throne in the temple announced that all was finished, and the power of God displayed itself in judgments and thunderings of His power; for "the voice of the Lord is powerful." And never was so great an earthquake - so great a disruption of all the elements of organised social existence. "The great city (that frame-work and centre of this organisation) "was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell" - all the centres of organisation of the nations external to the great city. And great Babylon is here presented, not merely in its civil sociality, but its full character before God - " great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." The particulars of her judgment also are reserved for a fuller and exacter display, together with her character, as was that of the beast. The precursory judgments have been stated here, and the order of these final ones placed. The fall of Babylon is connected with Revelation 14, where testimony is going on, as we have seen.

239 Direct destructive judgment, in the way of plague, not proper judgment before the throne, came down on men, along with this bringing the corporate system of Babylon into remembrance. It was neither repentance, nor, as I have said, anything of the final judgment of the throne - an earthly thing; for men blasphemed God because of it, for it was very great. Such is the effect of God's judgments when the wilful rebellious heart is unchanged; such have all of us, unless in new life by grace.


The apostle is now called away to a fuller description of the woman and the beast, not called up to heaven at all now, for her place and her judgment are on earth. He is called by one of the angels, or messengers of judgment, that had the seven vials of wrath of God. These angels had the character of perfect righteousness both divine and human: the golden girdle in which the certain energy and pure power of divine righteousness is maintained and vindicated; and white robes, in which the spotlessness of human sanctity and faultlessness, as of God, is expressed. One of these now comes to shew the prophet the judgment of the great whore that is seated, in her malignant influence, on the masses of peoples. That is, the revelation is made according to the character and estimate of this judgment.

The interpretation of this chapter is clearly of the greatest possible importance, as to the form of the corporate power of man, as apart from God, and setting up for independence of Him in the latter days. However, the judgment (though much information be given of her, and of the beast that is found to carry her) is definitely of her in one character - the great whore. She is judged as such, though much thereon depends; and this I certainly conclude to be mainly her ecclesiastical character, just as the bride, the Lamb's wife, with whom she is in eminent contrast, is the church; though heavenly glory be her portion, as false earthly glory is the great whore's. But the union with the Lamb is the real distinction of the one; her meretricious conduct (ecclesiastical corruption) is of the other: doubtless the glory of the world is eminently and intimately associated with this. Had she not this in play, much of her grandeur and influence would be lost, and she would cease to have this character. Her union with the world was her whoredom. Babylon may have a king over it - so it is spoken of in the Old Testament; but this is not its character here - she rides the beast. In the Old Testament, she is never, accordingly, spoken of as committing fornication; for in a certain sense (though, perhaps, through him, an evil one), she belonged to the king of the earth: he had made her and builded her for his majesty and his glory. Here, she rides on the beast, using hum, though afterwards hated and impoverished, etc., by the ten kings. Babylon of old, had deceived the nations by the multitude of her sorceries and her enchantments; but that is another thing: evil or good, she belonged to the king of Babylon; she rose by him, and fell with him. Here she has no king, but lives in evil, her own mistress, with the kings of the earth. Israel was an adulteress,* not Babylon, then.

{*Fornication seems to consist in living in wealth and luxuries, through intercourse with others, not the cultivation of her own resources; therefore it is referred to union with, and dependence on, the world in the case of the church, and to enriching commerce with other nations In the case of a city, as Tyre. Jerusalem is termed "adulteress," not whore, because she was married to the Lord; but in all these cases there will be found, I conceive, a worshipping of Satan, in this world, as its god, a seeking the power "of the age of this world," Eph. 2:2 Power national or imperial is a distinct thing, though it may be abused It is given of God, though it may end in open rebellion.}

240 For this she is judged, though other things and all worldly splendour might surround her, and give her influence over the minds of others. In the Old Testament, fornication is attached, not to Babylon, but to Tyre, with reference to her merchandise.

The material feature here is, that Babylon is not the seat of earthly power, ruled over and headed at any time by him who exercises apostate royalty upon the earth, but an independent woman. So was Tyre in the world, as thus spoken of: and, where the prince of Tyre* is spoken of, it is not in human earthly language, but the highest character of apostasy, such as can be reached in its full character only by the great enemy and, it would seem to me, connected with a church or religious standing - a character and apostasy far more terrible than the apostasy of the world, headed by its king, in its full form builded by him. Worldly association, then, this has, and wide extent of merchandising and wealth - a great system of worldly prosperity; but its character for judgment is her fornication, not her purple, her scarlet, and the like, though all these were connected with it, and designated her. Judgment ruined her as to these; but they were not the cause of judgment. And this is always the case: the becoming worldly, and by this spirit, and to gain this wealth, pandering to the passions of the kings of the earth, is just the very cause of this. But, as in old time, the blood of all righteous men was found in God s house, then apostate - not in the world's or the wicked one's outwardly - judged in Jerusalem, not in heathen Rome, so, ever: the ecclesiastical form of wickedness takes the lead, not the worldly. The gainsaying is recorded as the gainsaying of Korah, not of Dathan and Abiram, though the earth might swallow them up too; and the beast may be judged as well as Babylon, but not presented in the same sad terms in God's moral judgment, in the sight of men. Moral corruption is ever worse than evil power.

{*The prince and king of Tyre are, however, different. It is the king of whom the position is so astonishingly traced by the divine hand.}

241 Babylon was also the mother of harlots, and of the abominations or idolatries of the earth. The invocation of a demon, under the name of Paul, was worse than under the name of Hercules or Theseus; and the uprooting of the mediation of Christ more fatal and destructive (as of the remedy itself), than that of the unity of the one true Jehovah. She was here a mystery. The apostasy of worldly power and grandeur was no mystery to the escaped remnant of Babylon, and the Patmos prisoner of Domitian. That the church, which the apostle watched over, should assume this form, was a mystery indeed - ruling that which he was suffering under as a poor despised follower of the crucified Jesus, and corrupting a world of which the church properly was the only true light. She was the mother of the abominations of the earth; but her sway was over the many waters, peoples, and tongues, and nations, and languages. Rome, I cannot help believing, was the centre of this system. The golden cup was in the whore s hand, not she a golden cup in the Lord's - she governed and rode the ten-horned beast, that was her long general character, but not her final one: she became the prey and spoil of the kings which had their power with the beast. They gave their power, not to her any longer, but to him. She, not the beast, was drunk with the blood of the saints, and that, as seen sitting in her full ease and comfort there. And this was matter of deep astonishment to the apostle, that she who connected herself in his mind with such a character and pretension should be such.

242 Thus far the vision: but the interpretation follows, and (as has been elsewhere remarked of Daniel and the parables) the interpretation carries the facts of the prophecy into a further scene, altogether consequent upon that in the prophecy "The beast which thou sawest." The interpretation takes up the time of the passage into this further scene, which did not exist in the actual vision of the apostle; which saw (in order to give her her full character) the woman in all her splendour. "The beast which thou sawest, was" (to wit, the fourth great empire), "and is not" (i.e., had not, at the noticed period, its united formal character), "and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit" - shall resume this formal character, under the direct influence of Satan, and then be destroyed. And all within the prophetic range of his power (the earth - the woman's influence extended farther, "she sat on the waters") should be amazed when they thus saw it. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman, not the whore, sitteth, "but that great city which reigneth." This cannot mean merely Babylon; for that was the whore's name already on her forehead, and therefore not an explanation to be given. That was her symbolic character: this her local explanation. There are also seven kings; these are not the horns, they were not moreover contemporaneous. "Five are fallen, one is" (I take this, from verse 9, to be a direct present explication to the apostle), "the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space." This made the seven One brief-lived head of the beast was to arise before the last; after the apostle's days. The Spirit of God has not thought it material to give a special designation of this or the previous heads, as not in the present scene affecting the church or purposes of God, but merely identifying the beast, and not suffering the church to be led astray.

But there is that which is more distinctly noted, after all this is completed, and all that properly formed the beast is full - an eighth head* (which is the beast itself, as arising directly from Satan's power and influence) arises, which is yet of the seven, which is connected with and takes its place among the other heads and forms of the Roman empire, but is also a distinct, definite power, the resurrection-beast of Satan's power; and in this form it is that it goes into perdition.

{*I feel that probably this has passed, if we take the protracted course, in Charlemagne; if the closing scene, in Buonaparte, because the Roman empire had been destroyed in its full character before Charlemagne; and his was a renewal of what was not. Nominally it continued until Buonaparte, who, as the agent of the French republic, broke it to pieces and renewed the imperial power for a little season.}

243 We have now the woman, the beast, and its heads, described.

We have then the conduct of the ten horns, the ten kings. These properly belong to the beast; they had received no kingdom at the time of the vision, formed no part of the then system, but would receive power contemporaneously with the beast. I do not see that this states that they would exist all the time along with the beast,* but that they would not be a power supplanting or without connection with the beast, but that they would exist themselves, contemporaneously, and while the beast existed. They would give their power to the beast. I have no doubt that mainly the beast in its last form is here spoken of, but it is their character generally. They give their kingdom and power to the beast; they have one mind as to this. But though they did this corporately, they had a mind of their own, or at least practically in action. These shall make war with the Lamb: this shall be their conduct and end. The Lamb shall overcome them, for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and then we have His companions the church and armies of heaven anticipatively brought forward. He is not alone: they that are with Him are "called, and chosen, and faithful." This was the history and the end of the ten kings, but still characteristically; for, if we consult Daniel, three of them fall. Their Victor is then declared and His companions. As the confederacy of the kings gave (for it was man's will) their power to the beast, the Lamb's companions were, on the contrary, called, and chosen, and faithful. The "waters" are then explained so as to need little comment, save as reminding us of the extent of general moral influence beyond the prophetic earth: she had her seat there, though she sat on the beast too. Another characteristic was, that she had this influence and place on the peoples and multitudes and nations; all this was an independent influence proper to the woman, and this in her evil character as the whore.

{*It may have that force as to the last form of the beast out of the abyss.}

Another incident of much importance in the history is then brought forward. These ten kings are to give their power to the beast. So "God hath put into their hearts to fulfil his will," and "these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate, and eat her flesh" (devour her wealth and fatness), "and burn her with fire." It was not specifically with these kings she had committed fornication; that had been her general character with the kings of the earth. These ten kings, however, desolate her: the will at this time acts in them, not in the beast.* They are the prominent and existing actors, that they may give their power to the beast, whose final character and end we have already seen. This goes on "until the words of God shall be fulfilled." The woman, not the whore, is then designated as that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth (the predominant associated power of the earth):** but if acting by corrupt religion, not doing so here as a false prophet, but as a city - a system in her secular, carnal, and worldly, and wealthy character; yet that secularity and wealth, the meretricious secularity*** and wealth of an active, corrupting will - "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth."

{*The better reading, however, adds 'the beast.'}

{**Such as Rome, for example, before even imperial times.}

{***I know that many take Babylon as merely a great worldly system. That it is a great worldly system is freely admitted. But the exclusion of the ecclesiastical character in this place seems to me a great error: it is the virus of her active will in this place, though clothed with the world. She is not viewed here as the city of the apostate king at all, though, in the worldly sense, she may be the beginning of his kingdom He comes in here, as the eighth head of the beast, supplanting the woman. The kings lay her waste to give their power to him; for power, not wealth, is the last form of evil presented, and that against the Lamb, which is true, active rebellion, and more than mere apostasy. God therefore judges Babylon; and the destroyers of her wealth and importance are those who give their kingdom to the beast: thereupon and then war against the Lamb comes. I have no doubt the principles of Babylon were manifested in her - not royal power. Though Babylon was the beginning of his power in whom royal power was first displayed, yet it was specially what the confederate will of man had done; its first form was confederate will in independence of God. This is shewn in the character which constituted the whore, yet had its development by her corruption and fornication: and the effects of this are supplanted by another confederacy, which is not only apostasy, as all human will apart from God is, but active war against God's King, the Lamb.

As to the ten kings, I would here also notice, what, not being the direct subject of the book, I have not noticed hitherto. It appears to me a mistake to include the Grecian or eastern part of the Roman empire in the ten kings or direct power of the beast, though he may seek to possess himself of it as his dominion, and in a measure may do so. The little book of the eleventh chapter takes up the beast in his last satanic character, in order to complete the scene of the final catastrophe and woe; but the first two woes seem to me to embrace the eastern or Grecian part of the great scene of the prophetic earth. When we come to the geographical divisions and actings at the close (for all are aware that the catastrophe of all the powers of the earth is in the east, in Judea), then the king of the north and the king of the south seem to me to occupy the Grecian part, not the ten kings, though the beast may be seeking to possess himself, as of old, of their territory, and may in part succeed. I allude here to Daniel 11, as may readily be seen.}

245 CHAPTER 18

Having thus seen Babylon in her active will, in her connection with the will of others, and her end in wealth and fatness, the announcement of her fall as a corporate system is declared.

And here I find much more of the purely worldly part of the system; and this is its character, though the other be not denied. And here she is seen as fallen - Babylon the great, not spoken of here as the mother of harlots, the whore, or the woman, but simply as Babylon the great, as a city or dwelling-place. She had not ceased to exist, however, at all; but she was fallen, and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird. This was her present condition and judgment - her condition morally - and as discerned by the church, who, through the Spirit, knew all things on the testimony of God. The fall of Babylon seems to be her losing the place of active, governing or leading power, ruling as such the beast and many waters, involving her moral degradation, not destruction.

God now calls His people out of her. I do not say that this call had not application whenever the truth of the third verse was perceived: but it was now definite and positive, for the truth was declared judicially. Woe to them who remained! Her sins had reached to heaven, and they would receive of her plagues if they stayed. It was a warning on account of consequences now. The separation must be made, for God had begun to judge her. She had already fallen from power, the seductive power of wealth and corruption. She still, it seems, said in her heart, she should be a queen and see no sorrow-still maintained her pride, though she was fallen; and the church knew God was now judging her.* The desolation of all the temporal prosperity of the great city is sorrow and trouble to the kings of the earth. This is a distinct thing from the ten horns hating her and burning her with fire. The kings of the earth are the royal rulers, not these specific ten horns, which give their power to the beast as kingdoms; the horns were the power of the kingdoms, exercised by the ruling power for the time, perhaps. But all those who had been dwelling in the security of the settled and ordered earthly system - the kings of the earth, as the inhabitants of the earth - those who had been committing fornication with the great whore - these bewailed her burning.** The ten were a definite class, brought forward with the beast in his last actings against the Lamb, for the accomplishment of which God puts it into their heart to get rid of the great whore. The ten kings are never, as such, spoken of as committing fornication with the harlot. The kings of the earth and inhabitants of the earth are mentioned as having so conducted themselves. The rising of the ten kings into active power is a distinctly noticed and subsequent event. Their specific description as active is from Revelation 17:12-17

{*The full judgment comes after God's people are come out of her. Her fall is a warning to them, these are rapidly brought together here at her judgment. [I have left this statement as it is, though its full force may be questioned, because it is a very nice point of interpretation, and it was no harm to have this view before us.]}

{**See Ezekiel 27:35-36, and the previous verses. The prince of Tyre sits in the midst of the seas.}

246 The destruction and judgment of the great city involved the ruin of all mere secular interests - wealth - all that was Tyrian in its character, though souls of men had been added to that renowned city's traffic; for the great city traded in them also. Anything to enrich characterised the conduct of the city, taught by direct and accomplished apostasy. The city was, in a certain sense, distinct from the merchants. She was the whole system; they stood aloof, from the fear of her torment when God was judging her; and the ship-masters withal. But heaven and the holy apostles and prophets were called to rejoice over her. She had been the enemy of heaven, as the whole lust of the earth, to shut out God; and withal the persecutor and enemy of the revelation and testimony of the heavenly glory, the judgment of the world, and the coming of the Son of man - in a word, of the great power of testimony by which the church was constituted in the world. Then came the statement of the sudden and total manner of her final destruction.* Her worldly wealth, the power of riches, is marked as her great final character as thus judged and destroyed. And here she was like Babylon of old; and in her was found all the blood slain upon the earth - as in Jerusalem all that was shed, up to her destruction - as being the chief and perfected form of apostasy from God.

{*There seems to me, an intimate connection between the continuance of Babylon and the serpent being in heavenly places. He exercises his power thus as influence, secretly, as false worship. He is the object of false worship; and hence, in this dispensation, he works by the corruption of Christian profession; and yet this still as the god of this world, which title he cannot lose, for it is all he has: "the course of this world … the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." This is said of him as still in the heavenlies.

False worship, as the source of power, would be its heathen character; false worship, as the source or means of fellowship, its Babylonish character in the Christian dispensation. In a word, this is rather His anti-priestly character and spiritual influence: the man of sin, or lawless one, is not revealed. Power continues outwardly owned of God, and the letter [he that letteth] remains. When he is cast down, he loses this character, which is opposed to Christ as Priest, and to Him as acting by His Spirit in maintaining the holy communion of His saints and washing their feet. He then raises power as of earth (the king doing according to his will) against the heavens, for he has no place in them even falsely. He could render his influence as anti-priest paramount to supreme civil authority, which is of God, using the name of God falsely in religion; but he cannot, save in open rebellion when cast down, bring power against God. [The substance of this note is of great importance; only it must not be supposed that the first sentence is to be taken strictly as the existence of Babylon. But I apprehend there will be a total change when Satan is cast down, perhaps practically prepared before. The principles, I have no doubt, are already at work.]}

247 In this description of Babylon we have the whole spirit and character of the world except power, royal power; for that is of God, however used, and that (in the hands of the kings of the earth) was corrupted by her; and then these ten horns or kings hated her and destroyed all its fulness and power. These were not Babylon; but they gave their power to the beast; so that power also which did come from God, might be found in open rebellion against Him to whose hand all power was entrusted and given - the Lamb; and thus the last and final form of evil be produced, involving (for it was then the question whose power was to stand) the destruction and setting aside of the form and subsistence of apostasy.

Thus, in Babylon we have wealth, corruption, sorceries, arts, luxuries, bodies and souls of men sold, fornication committed with the kings and dwellers upon earth, and they made drunk with it:* the principle of confederate will, but the corruption (not the exercise) of royal secular power as of God, though it might, by seduction, rule and govern this power, and thus separate it from its divine source, and actually set aside and hinder the unqualified assertion of its supremacy, as of God over all. This, as we have seen, is distinct from the direct apostasy of power, which is founded on the hatred and consumption of the whore, and has its place in the beast. Power was given to Nebuchadnezzar, and he built Babylon. But here we have the woman in the exercise of her own will corrupting and ruling, uniting the characters of Israel towards God (save that she was a harlot, not an adulteress, for she had been but espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ), and Tyre towards the world. When in exercise, we have always the ecclesiastical taking the lead in evil, as in Kore and the chief priests: so here this mysterious woman sits on the beast and many waters. When the kings begin to act, and are going to give their power by their will, they begin by her destruction, or consumption at any rate. And note, the act of Christ's power is on the feet and toes themselves. God judges Babylon as a great moral system denying His supremacy, not in open hostility to Christ's power.

{*The character of Babylon as whore seems lost by the enmity of the ten horns, because she cannot help it. The religious mischief is, after this, done by the false prophet, the other form of the two-horned beast Thereon the character of Babylon becomes more purely secular; but the devil dwells there, or it is the habitation of demons, and not therefore simply worldly interests.}

248 We have the fall* of Babylon distinguished, I think, from the destruction of Babylon. Her fall includes moral degradation, and being the dwelling-place of unclean spirits. This is judgment on her; and she falls because of her making the nations drink of the wine of the poison of her fornication; chap. 14:8. This we find in the ecclesiastical course, so to speak, of closing facts. Her final judgment we find in the close of the filling up of the wrath of God; chap. 16:19. The connection of the former seems to be with Revelation 18:2; of the latter, with Revelation 18:21.

{*[I have still left this, though it may be too precise as a system. Still both are spoken of. There is an excessive degradation; the fair form of ecclesiastical character is gone, and it is thorough demon wickedness. In this case, Revelation 18:4-8, and verse 21, would seem to coalesce with Revelation 16:19.]}

249 CHAPTER 19

Thus Babylon was judged - removed out of the way with her corruptions, which corrupted the earth; and the blood of the servants of the Lord God was avenged. This is celebrated as the work of the Lord God by a multitude in heaven, and the mystic representations of the redeemed; but the worship was of God as sitting on the throne, whose power and judgment had been thus exercised. The way was now made free; and a voice comes forth out of the throne for the voice of praise from all God's servants. His sons could always praise Him in spirit; but here (the prevalence of evil being removed and "delay no longer") they, in their character of servants, and all that feared God, can praise Him; for He now reigned as the Lord God Omnipotent - that character or those characters in which He dealt with the earth whether as God, Creator, Promiser, and Shield of His people while strangers, or the everlasting Accomplisher of all He had promised, Jehovah Elohim Shaddai. All these He took now in power and reigned. This time takes us back to Revelation 11:17:* we have had, in the interval, the source, character, and form of evil, and judgment of all but the beast, and open power against the Lamb, which is earthly. All secret or mere corrupt evil, all evil that had its place in heaven, being removed, it was a question of open power - Satan's last and hopeless resource on earth. The praise, accordingly, is returned to God in this character of Lord God Almighty who reigneth; and gladness and joy immediately came forth.

{*When God takes to Himself His power and reigns, and the worldly kingdom of our Lord and of His anointed is come. It is taken up here on the actual judgment and removal out of the way of Babylon, as the earthly mystery opposed to the heavenly bride of Christ: so that, as the Lord God Omnipotent takes His power, the Lamb thereupon takes His bride. Babylon's fall, which seems more connected with the fall of Satan from heaven, is a previous thing.}

Then His first and immediate purpose manifests itself, before even the Lamb's judgment of His earthly enemies; "the marriage of the Lamb is come." This is a matter of ordinance and dispensation. We are now His children; but the marriage of the Lamb is not yet come, nor is His wife made ready. It is not here, then, children with the Father. But the time for the Lord's manifest glory being come, the Lord God takes His power, judges and removes the evil worldly counterpart, and (the Lamb's wife made ready) the time for it is come: these, however, were heavenly things,* and they are passed by. The time, and readiness and nature of her robes only, are passingly mentioned as an important circumstantial characterising the progress of events: and it closes with pronouncing blessing on those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb; and the prophet returns to the course on the earth again, where the white-robed ones are found the companions of His glory in judgment.

{*The marriage of the Lamb was not before the world: though, having espoused her in the heavens, He may then in the gladness of His heart bring her forth in glory.

The marriage supper seems to be rather the manifestation, as His companions in glory; as the "blessed are the dead," etc., is the rest from their labours, and reception of reward; I do not say the time, but the peculiar blessedness is different. I have some notion that the blessing (Revelation 14), has special connection with Revelation 13:10, and the blessing here with Revelation 14:12.}

250 This closed the scene of what was properly heavenly, i.e., the time during which the Lamb (and His followers) were not manifested upon earth. It closes with "these are the true sayings of God." The angel was his fellow servant* and the fellow servant of his brethren that had the testimony of Jesus; for the spirit of prophecy still testified of Jesus. God was to be worshipped: this was the great end of the book - to keep the church in the holy simplicity of true worship in the midst of ruin and apostasy.

{*Note, sonship is not the point of this book, but dealings on earth: therefore the angel says, "fellow servant" to those who, in their higher character, are really sons and joint heirs.}

Now the heaven is opened. It is not John caught up there. It is not a sign there. It is not the temple opened to him there; but heaven is opened and One comes forth.* Heaven opened for the Holy Ghost to descend on Jesus here. It opened for the angels of God to ascend and descend on the Son of man It opened for the church (to wit, in Stephen closing that period and scene) to see into heaven and be received there. It now was opened, that the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself should come forth thence to act on the earth - to judge and make war in righteousness. It was now the time that power was to be applied to righteousness** in the earth. He came in the manifestation of faithfulness and truth; He came with scrutinising and purging judgment; He came in the assemblage of many royalties; and in the secret of His own power, which none knew but Himself. His armies were in fine linen clean and white - heavenly righteousness and purity - the priests of God. He came with divine vengeance (His garment was dipped in blood), and in that title of the manifestation of the power of God which was from creation downward, "the word of God." Thus He had created, thus revealed, thus judges. The armies in heaven followed. None were in this conflict with Him on the earth - His own arm brought salvation: He smites, rules, and treads the wine-press of God's wrath. The power and title, in which He is now publicly manifested, is "King of kings, and Lord of lords": this recalls to Revelation 17:14. The birds of the air are summoned to the great supper of destruction.

{*I have long felt, and it is clear from this passage, that the church is actually with Christ in heavenly places before this; for they come forth with Him. See Colossians 3:1-4.}

{**"Judgment shall return to righteousness; and all the upright in heart shall follow it," Psalm 94:15.}

251 The ten kings were specially marked in their war against the Lamb; and they did take a lead in it; but the expression here is more general. The beast is found here, and the kings of the earth. Those who ruled the earth were generally found refusing to submit to this royal conqueror - to the Lord. The beast is first and prominent; then the kings of the earth withal and their armies. It was the general character of the state of the earth then. The beast and the false prophet are taken and put in the lake of fire. The prophet, by his characteristics, is identified with the second two-horned beast which arose out of the earth, which has lost its secular power, but not its character as counsellor of mischief in the latter day. The remnant was slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse - it "proceeded out of his mouth." For, though it was the actual execution of judgment, and no longer merely the sword of the Spirit, but of the Lord, in active imperial judgment of the quick, it was according to the word. It was the judgment of the word which proceeded out of His mouth: they died by that. The proper application of this is to those who were against Him, as coming from heaven. to judge those who were directly under the influence and power of apostasy. Still, the kings of the earth is wider than the ten kings,* and left general. I doubt, however, whether it includes Gog, whose aim is against the land rather than the Lamb, or even the Prince of princes. With Gog, it is the gratification of covetousness, the lust of possessing. He goes against the land of unwalled villages, and perishes in the mountains of Israel, after Israel is brought back and dwelling in peace.

{*Only that the kings of earth compose the ideal completeness of the earth under the beast.}

252 The beast and the false prophet, these delegates of Satan, the active enemies of the Lamb, were finally judged: but it does not appear that the deceiving of the nations by Satan thereupon ceases, because he is not yet bound. Still, he cannot now reproduce anything that had before flowed from his place in heaven. On his casting down, his place became, as we have seen, that of open opposition to the Lamb. This is the character of the action of the nations ever afterwards under his influence: nothing like the great previous system. So, even after the thousand years, all is on earth and of this character. He never regained heaven again at all. The beast and the false prophet, the resulting form of the apostasy while Satan was god of this world, never re-appeared either. He established himself evidentially prince of this world by what led to the cross, that being the climax of it. When that was departed from, the church only became the instrument of his power; sin and the world resuming their dominion under her name. This was maintained in active apostasy by the use of a corrupt church, still on the earth as to means; and, when he was cast down from heaven, it- could then only be by open war, as we have seen, against Him who came in His royalty to claim His inheritance. I believe it will be found that the early commerce and colonisation of the earth were most intimately connected with idolatry - the children of apostate though once rescued Ham. His first act was casting off or degrading authority as of God; and ere long we find, at the river of Cush,* idolatry in practice, and extending even to the Shemitic race, whence Abraham was then called out.

{*Of this idolatrous and worldly power, Egypt, Babylon, and Tyre (from which last the worldly and apostate character is specially drawn) were the great centres mentioned in Scripture. The last committed fornication with all the kingdoms of the earth (this in connection with her trade, etc.).}

The former state (i.e., confederacy, trading, false religion) is spoken of as a woman :t this may, as to part of the ideas, be subjected to Christ. Nebuchadnezzar may rule Babylon (the city of confusion); so the Lord Christ "the city of the great King," where God is well known; and Jerusalem may be the queen in gold of Ophir. The latter state of earthly opposition is, either the beast, once subject to the former, and it is by the will of the kings, or in the hands of the wilful king, the fallen and hostile carnal man rising up against the Lord. The former point much explains to me the prince of Tyre in the prophet Ezekiel.

{*As Babylon, or the great city, Tyre: adulterous Israel and idolatry.}

253 CHAPTER 20

We have, accordingly, to remark that Satan is not bound by him that sat on the horse; but an angel comes down from heaven. It is not the immediate judgment here on Satan by Christ, but the divine power, and providence, and intervention of God, which sets Satan aside and incapacitates him from any further deceiving of the Gentiles till he be let loose.

In verse 4 we begin a new scene - the thrones. It is not judging and making war here, but sitting in royal judgment on thrones. This passage, it seems to me, alludes to the thrones being set (so admitted to mean, I believe, as in Septuagint) in Daniel 7:9; in the interpretation of which, in verse 22, we read, "judgment was given to the saints of the most high," or of the heavenly places. Here, not only are the thrones set, but he sees people sitting on them: the thrones were filled. This Daniel did not see - it was a period with him: with us it is our glory with Christ. These thrones were set before even the King and His armies came forth; but they formed no part of the actual visible earthly scene (nothing yet of the connection of heaven with the earth); and therefore they are not mentioned. The thrones were set before the judgment of the beast in Daniel; and those who come forth with the Lamb are sitters on the thrones. But, I repeat, though filled, they are not brought into the scene till they form properly part of it. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory … then shall he sit on the throne of his glory." They do not take this place properly till He takes it openly (the power being given to Him as Son of man, which is connected with earth): and so these thrones, though seated in heaven. As, in Daniel, "the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most high," so this is consequent upon His taking His power and reigning. They reign with Him the thousand years. What follows in the verse is an additional intimation that the others had lost nothing by the enmity of the world,* and of Satan even to death, or by their refusal to worship the beast. Their souls were seen. There might have been power to kill the body, but they had never died to God, and now they enjoyed the fruit of it - "they reign in life by one."

{*I think I see here an assertion of threefold presentation of those who shall occupy the thrones, or at least live and reign with Christ a thousand years. First, the general body of the saints of the heavenlies, including the church - they sat on thrones; next, those beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God; thirdly, those who had not worshipped the beast. This is important as shewing the place of all these classes.}

254 The reigning on the thrones actually is consequent upon the removal of the deceiving power of Satan: and so with Christ. He comes first, and then actually takes the throne of the world: His companions have been hidden with Him meanwhile; and though glorified (so I speak of them now), the thrones were not seen till the war ended. The title was full, they were gone to Him. But they did not, before that, actually possess the kingdom; nor did He Himself. The horse and the throne are distinct things - imperial, active, subduing power; and full, peaceable, judicial power as king. For Christ's act so coming is not a mere passing act. The throne of His glory continues till, as mediatorial king, He gives it up. On this throne of the Son of man the saints will sit, occupying thrones with Him and judging the world; and this is a reign of peace, but of righteousness withal (this latter Jewish properly): for heaven and earth meet in peace now - peace on earth; because the face of heaven, in its own character through Christ the Mediator, and the saints with Him, shines on it now.

In this part there is little mention of the nations, though it be left general; because Christ deals with the nations as identified with earthly Jerusalem: whereas here He is looked upon as coming from heaven to act upon the main scene and agent of Satan's hostile power - the beast and his followers. The nations at this time are more the subjects of Old Testament prophecy; which, while it recognises the fact of the Lord's coming from heaven with all His saints, occupies itself with the earthly Jerusalem and what passes there. Here we have the display of the first resurrection - the main subject. Blessed and holy are they! they shall be priests of God and of Christ: there is their highest place, as seen in this book; and they shall reign with Him a thousand years, for He is a priest on His throne. It would be hard to make priests of principles, though, by a figure, we might say principles reign.

255 After this, when the nations form the body of hostile agents, we have Satan's actings in them; but it is no revival of the beast, nor anything in that character. Blessed be God, there was a final ending of that dark and subtle apostasy which resulted from Satan's being in heaven; but this is a mere exhibition of open, hostile enmity in those whom he has been able to deceive here. We must on no account, therefore, lose sight of this character of present evil and rebellion and apostasy, that it flows from Satan's being in heavenly places (though the church, in the knowledge of Christ's exaltation, may know His and its entire victory over him). The wrestling, however, is not now with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. In Revelation 12 Satan is cast down from heaven; but here, what he raises on earth against the Lamb is cast into the lake of fire and Satan himself is bound in the bottomless pit, the history of the earth not being yet finished. The coming of Jesus, whose judgment acts on the beast and false prophet, is not the same as the angel of God's providence and power casting Satan into the pit.

The glory and reigning of the Son of man seems to vindicate God as regards the failure of the Noah world. The blessing of the Second Adam, as the Head of a redeemed race, takes the place of antediluvian evil and wretchedness, in which the children of fallen Adam displayed their character: this closed by the judgment of water, that commenced by that of fire. In the reign of the Son of man with His saints, "a King shall reign in righteousness." In the blessedness of the Second Adam, as Head of the new race when God's tabernacle is with men, therein "dwelleth righteousness," its peaceful and constant habitation without force maintaining it. Partially the principles of these two states mingle, by virtue of the power and influence of the heavenly Jerusalem and its great Bridegroom (and so we have Psalm 85 accomplished): still are they different.

Upon the close of the thousand years, Satan is let loose - deceives the nations - a separation takes place; and he brings up the deceived against the camp of the saints and the beloved city, to wit, the earthly Jerusalem. Then the devil is cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and the false prophet are already, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

256 The judgment of the beast and his armies, it appears to me, is not the judgment of Matthew 25, nor is Matthew 25 the judgment of the great white throne. That judgment in Matthew appears to me to be the judgment of the nations at large, when Christ is not making war, either as coming from heaven, or as going forth in connection with Jerusalem; but when He is sitting on His throne, having come, and judging the nations for the manner in which they have treated the preachers of the gospel of the kingdom in that going forth which shall specially take place at the close. It is not, "He shall send forth his armies," but the calm and solemn session of the throne on those who have despised Him in His messengers.

Although the fact of the resurrection of the just is mentioned here to separate them out of the judgment, the millennial state itself is little dwelt upon, the chapter being properly the account of the session of judgment. From this we see the partakers of the first resurrection entirely exempt. Then Satan's actings, as introducing the millennial judgment* are mentioned, and that judgment itself. On the great white throne (for there were no thrones now) sat One from whose face heaven and earth fled away. This, therefore, was no coming at all - no judgment of the habitable world as a scene, nor a judgment of the quick. The dead, small and great, stand before God; and they are judged out of the books, according to their works. We have therewith a general statement of the portion of those not written in the book of life. Whatever differences there may have been in measure, they were all cast into the lake of fire. This was not now a place merely prepared for the devil and his angels. The devil was there. The false prophet and the beast had been there long before: now, all those who were not written in the book of life.

{*If any ask what comes of the living saints as to their change at the close of the millennium, the answer is - Scripture says nothing, save that from other passages we know, on principle, they will have incorruptible natures in that scene when all things are made new.}

257 CHAPTER 21

There was now not merely an economic change. The great white throne had no reference to any dispensation, but to the dead. There was now an actual physical change - a new heaven and a new earth, and no more sea. And here John sees a new object, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. This general fact, I conceive, is presented here to give the object. Its bearings are taken up apart: and first the historical progress or result is stated; and we find the tabernacle of God, not the throne or heavenly dwelling of God and the Lamb, but God all in all - the tabernacle of God with men. The race, man, now are blessed with God's presence; and grace had provided a way in the which (with no desolating enquiry of "Where art thou?") God could visit, yea, have His tabernacle among men, now headed up in the blessed last Adam - the risen and glorified Man, not in the first fallen one. The millennium, as we have said, is the contrast to Noachic failure, when Satan is cast out of the heavens, and government comes in, righteous and effectual for blessing and peace. To man's fall, the ruin of the first Adam, is here contrasted the perfect, unfailing, and new and durable blessing of the second - all things made new - no more death - all evil put in the lake of fire. Chapter 19:9 is the special recorded blessing of the former state, the marriage of the Lamb: Revelation 21:5, the blessing of this.

The condition of the earth during the millennium is more properly the subject of the Old Testament prophets - the restitution of all things spoken of by them. The connection of the heavenly blessings with it, during the millennium, is, however, taken up in what follows, to complete the picture, and give the saints the joy of their own portion in it, which, in its own proper and intrinsic character, moreover is eternal. This account is from Revelation 21:9 to 22:5-6.* On this I have but few remarks to make, having so far prolonged this. It is not here the children in the Father's house; it is not dwelling in God as love (and thus, through Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells, filled with His fulness, we in Him, and He in the Father), but the glory of God, the order of all dispensation. Glory is taken up in it (i.e., that which constitutes the glory of each), as displaying the character, foundation, and ways of God, the excellency of mediation, and the basis of righteousness and true holiness, firmly established as the very streets of the city. These constituted the characteristics of the city.

{*Chapter 21:8, closes the historical statement: what follows is description, and that of the millennial effect of the city as well as of the city itself.}

258 But there is another very interesting point in this character of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Lamb's bride, the perfection and blessedness of mediatorial glory. First, God and the Lamb are the light of it: they enjoy the light of glory; the nations of the spared ones walk in the light of it (i.e., of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Lamb's wife, the glorified saints). It is not merely "nations shall come to the brightness of its rising" - the acknowledgment of a new and dominant power owned of God and glorified in the earth; it is proper blessing, "they walk in the light of it." And yet more distinctly does it preserve its character of grace, and the immense privilege of grace; and what it possesses in common, it has on incomparably higher ground than even Paradise of old. The Tree of Life has healing in it now. Not merely can the innocent eat and live, but there is remedial blessing in it for those on earth. They worse perhaps in some sort than Adam, but far more glory, and blessing displayed even in glory. The Lamb's bride, answering as a help-meet to the Lamb's heart of love, is minister of blessing to them that need. It is now full of blessing, and we ministers of it, "for his servants shall serve Him … His name shall be on their foreheads." Far other is the minister of strict earthly righteousness, the earthly Jerusalem - " the people and nations that will not serve thee shall utterly perish." Now this heavenly rule, withal, is recognised as the source of power. The kings of the earth bring their glory to it (not to corrupt Babylon, to their disgrace and ruin). None enter this that defile, but those written in the Lamb's book of life. It is not now merely "the Lord shall reign for ever and ever," but "they shall reign for ever and ever."

From the time of the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God, and the association of the church with Him, Christ has been ready to judge. There were many Antichrists, whereby it was known that it was the last time, as this same apostle teaches us. And now, in the manifested failure of the church on earth unfolded in the first chapters, though the Bridegroom might tarry, the church, knowing His mind, had but one cry, "Come!" In this position, therefore, the church is practically set.

259 From the time the prophecy took its course, all was remediless. When it took absolutely and definitely in the crisis, it became absolutely and definitely so as to individuals, as regarded the dispensation of judgment - "the door was shut." The Lord declares He has sent His angel to testify these things in the churches. Here we are brought back to what went before the prophetic sayings (the churches being thus made cognisant of the prophetic sayings). The Lord presents Himself to them, as the root indeed, but as the offspring of David, ready to inherit his throne; and the bright and blessed witness of millennial day, and, in one sense, eternal day to the church. This was the next thought to the church on this failure. Accordingly, knowing it, the church is only lifted up into better hopes, and the Spirit,* which, as Comforter, abides for ever, takes the lead; and, in its character of bride, abstracting itself from circumstances and earthly progress and associations, the church joins its guiding Spirit and says, Come - calls on all who hear, whose ear is open to divine truth, to join in this as its cry, its first utterance, now born into a world of sorrow even for the church, which sees its desolation (still, however, maintaining its character of grace, ministerial grace, to the world): "And let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." While the Holy Ghost remains filling the church, no change of circumstances can prevent it or us from being the ministers of this calling-grace in the midst of a ruined world.

{*The Spirit saying it shewed that it was not merely a holy though untaught desire, but the mind of the Spirit itself, in and to the church, who, what He hears, speaks. It was the divine mind, but, so taught, all the bride's affections, separated in heart and spirit to Christ, centre and express themselves in this desire. "He that heareth" is he whose heart is opened to the truth, but has not learnt the separated bridal state of the church, espoused as a chaste virgin unto Christ.}

Strictly speaking, then, verse 17 returns to the things that are; verses 10,11 to the prophetic period, which has closed the hope and testimony of grace, and assumed the testimony of judgment, either preparatory or final. Verse 20 gives the individual seal, as it were, of the apostle's faith to the personal application of the book by the Lord.

260 As the church instantly broke forth in answer on the church revelation of Jesus, in exactly corresponding praises to His then revealed character, so now, on the revelation of His millennial and glorified character, it breaks forth by the Spirit, which never leaves it let it be ever so desolate, but rather inspires it with hope in the answering and suitable cry of "Come!" and then looks round, in the sense of this, to renew its service of grace to the world.

In Revelation 21:6, we have Jehovah sitting on the throne, declaring Himself as Alpha and Omega; here, in Revelation 22:12-13, we have Jesus doing so (there closing the millennium  - here introducing the millennial times).

The following four pages set out in tabulated form: -

THE NEW TESTAMENT. - Viewing the Revelation on the protracted or historic scale.

SYNOPSIS OF THE REVELATION. - The prophetic part viewed as the Lord's assumption of the inheritance, consequent on the church being in heaven.

Pages 261-265 {See files 02_pro1*.png in 'prophet' folder}