Great Contrasts in the Revelation

1. The Lamb Slain and the Four Horses of Chapter 6

None but an inspired pen could have portrayed the scenes revealed to us in chapters 5 and 6 of the Revelation. How tremendous is the contrast between them! In the former a great joy and the thunders of a song that rolls triumphantly to the uttermost bounds of the universe; in the latter the wail of an anguished fear and the unrelieved despair of men from whom all hope has fled away. We must consider these great scenes, this with rapture, that with awe and hear and leant the truths that they teach, for they are God-given for our instruction and the safety of our souls.

"And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign over the earth … And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be to Him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever" (Revelation 5).

"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand." (Revelation 6).

The joy of chapter 5 is the result of the work of the Lamb that was slain; the woe of chapter 6 is the result of the efforts of men for their own safety and glorification. Let us transport ourselves in thought into these scenes. Chapter 4 opens "the things that shall be hereafter" section of the Book (see chap. 1:19). The true church — blood-redeemed and Holy Ghost sealed — has been caught up to heaven. The day of salvation for Christendom has closed and the hour of judgment has struck. Note the ascription of praise that rises from the prostrate worshippers before the throne in heaven. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: FOR THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS, AND FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED" (chap. 4:11). That is the key to the whole of this section of the Book; and if we miss the meaning of that we shall understand nothing that follows. The power and rights of God are acknowledged in heaven but not on earth. And it is because men have refused to acknowledge Gods rights and have lived for their own pleasure and not for God's that His judgments are to pour themselves out upon them.

For near two thousand years there has risen to heaven the prayer, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"; and that prayer must be answered, and the time for it is about to come. But first the determined opposition of men to the will of God must be fully exposed; it must come to its climax, and it speedily will as shown to us here. God's will can only be established on the earth by judgment. Infinite love manifested in Jesus failed to melt the hardened hearts of men: they hated Him more and more and killed Him because of His goodness. The most incredible grace from heaven has not changed the world, though it continues from the time that the Lord Jesus went on high to the going up of the church. The acceptable year has now closed in these chapters and the lurid dawn of the day of judgment reddens the sky, but men are unchanged in their enmity to God. What a vain dream is that which has been so popular, that the world would be converted by the preaching of the gospel. The end of chapter 6 alone proves its falsity. Would the Lamb be wrath with a converted world? and would a converted world cower in abject terror in the caves and holes of the mountains from His face?

We must consider chapter 6. It is the first of the series of judgments, if judgments the opening of the seals can be called. It appears to me that under these seals we see men doing what they imagine to be the best for themselves without God, and the results of this. The church has gone, the restraining influence has been removed, and God has cast the reins upon the necks of the swift steeds of man's desire. He leaves them for a while to their own devices that the universe may see and own that His judgments on the world are just.

"Self-preservation is the first law of nature" is an ancient proverb, and "safety first" is a modern slogan, but men cannot save themselves; God is the only Saviour. He is the Saviour-God; to reject Him is to be lost; apart from Him, men can only destroy themselves, and be the victims of the devil's malice. The four horses of chapter 6 would teach us this great lesson if we have not yet learnt it.

A WHITE HORSE and its rider appears when the first seal is opened. It signifies some pretensious scheme for peace and prosperity, something most promising. What this scheme may be we cannot exactly tell. It may be power centralised in a League of Nations which will police the world. Whatever it will be it will be man's effort without God to take care of himself. Great will be the hopes; he will imagine that he has at last reached Utopia. "Peace and safety" they will say, and the noise of their rejoicing will deafen their ears to the sudden destruction that is thundering at the door. How swiftly the white horse passes and THE RED HORSE and its rider appears. Peace is taken from the earth. There is a great sword in the hand of the rider on this horse. Human life is no longer sacred. They kill one another. Blood lust burns like a furnace. A frenzied "French revolution" at least Europe wide, shatters all hopes of world peace, and good-will turns to gall and bitterness, for how could men who hate God, love one another?

The beginning of that time when they shall forge their ploughshares into swords has come, and agriculture has given place to war, and the neglected fields yield thorns instead of wheat, and the BLACK HORSE of famine with its rider swiftly follows the red horse of war. Woe to the poor of the earth. If they have escaped the sword they will not escape the famine. The necessities of life, the wheat and the barley, are strictly rationed, while the luxuries of life are unaffected. And strange as that seems it is man's way. Oh that the poor of our day would hear and understand it and turn from their trusted leaders to God. He Is the friend of the poor, the God of the fatherless and the widow, as we learn from the life of Jesus on earth. But men are selfish and grasping and apart from the influence of the gospel are indifferent to the sufferings of their fellows, so long as they can secure good things for themselves. There will be no gospel influence in these awful days, and the black horse of famine will be a more terrible oppression than the red horse of war. The PALE HORSE shall follow in quick procession, and the name of his rider is DEATH, and HELL follows with him. The sword and hunger and death and the beasts of the field do their fell work on the bodies of men and Hell claims their souls. What a descent, from the white horse and its rider to the depths of hell!

Let no one suppose that I am throwing the colours upon the canvas with too lavish a hand; human words are feeble and faint when it comes to the portraying of these scenes. And let no one think that these conditions, described in this chapter, are a recent development, or a state of mind at which men shall arrive suddenly and only when the time arrives for these events to happen. It would have been so from the beginning but for God's restraining mercy. Think of Adam in the Garden. He was made in the image and likeness of God, and set in dominion over this lower creation, to subdue and to cultivate it. No creature more noble ever came from the hand of the Creator. In him we see a white horse and his rider, full of promise of peace and perfection, but not for long did he ride prosperously. He was soon deceived by his own ambition, and distrust of God, and by that old serpent which is the devil, and he lost his place of supremacy, and the bright promise was lost in a sickening fear. The white horse gave place to the red horse, for not many years had passed by, when the startled earth drank for the first time the blood of a man. And that man was not slain by a wild beast from the forest, or by a demon from the lower regions, but by his own mother's son, his elder brother, who should have been his keeper and protector.

Many times would the race have destroyed itself since that first murder, but God has restrained men in His mercy. Yet they are unchanged in character, their tendency is always away from God and consequently downwards. The idea that the race is making progress and climbing upwards upon the right road to final righteousness is a delusion. The Word of God and the history of the world disprove the idea of progress and evolution of better things utterly, and would dispel the delusion for all who have eyes to read and ears to hear.

But there will be in this day that we are considering a more terrible thing, which reveals the root, the cause of man's inhumanity to man, his subservience to the Devil, and his blind self-destruction. "When He had opened the fifth seal," says John, "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God." In their schemes for making the world as they would have it, they give the destruction of everything that is for God a leading place. Let a man speak for God and his life will be the price of his courage. The Word of God will not be tolerated and those who love it must die. The result of it all is the terror and despair of the closing verses of the chapter.

Why should these things be revealed to us in the Word? They are warnings of love to the world, but they are written chiefly for the servants of the Lord, that, seeing what the schemes of men are in their development, they may beware of them now, and not be deceived by what is so pretentious plausible, and promising. Cursed is he that trusts in man, and makes the arm of flesh his stay. We are taught by them that man's efforts to improve his world must fail, for God and Christ have no place in them. If we have learnt this lesson we shall stand in separation from these schemes and efforts, and devote our time and energies to that which must prevail. The great contrast is shown to us in chapter 5.

The will of God must be done on earth as it is in heaven, and God's creation must yield glory and pleasure to Him. If it failed finally in this, the reason of its creation, the Devil would triumph and God would be defeated. Moreover, it can never be at rest until God has His rightful place as God in it

But who can bring about this great thing? Who is able and worthy to open the book of God's will and bring to pass God's intentions for the earth? A strong angel with a loud voice issues the challenge and the records are searched. Great men and mighty there have been since Adam's day. They lived and wrought their prodigious deeds, coercing their fellows with imperious will, regardless of God's will, but they have passed away leaving nothing behind them but empty names and decaying monuments. Death prevailed over them all; they were not able, they were not worthy. Even heaven is searched in vain. Enoch, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel — there is not one of them able and worthy. They are not even in heaven because of their worthiness, but through the rich merits of redeeming blood. They all broke down in the day of testing, and the one who is to establish God's will on earth must be without failure. He must have been absolutely obedient to that will Himself.

John wept, and wept much, and no wonder. History is dismal reading when rightly read. The record of the failure of Adam's race to deliver itself from sin and death and to glorify God gives no cause for exultation, but much cause for grief, and we might well mingle our tears with John's, if we did not know that that was revealed to him here. We know it, thank God, and we weep not. "WEEP NOT," said one of the elders. "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof." THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH" is a glorious title. It signifies untarnished human majesty, and Royalty that is truly royal. In it is the wisdom that stoops to conquer, and the power that subdues all enemies and lifts those who love righteousness out of all oppression and depression. The Old Testament Scriptures are full of the glories that are involved in this title, and creation has waited and groaned for the coming of the One who could bear it. But He to whom it belongs is the ROOT OF DAVID. No fickle man could bear on his shoulders the weight of glory that the title involves, for the sceptre of this kingdom must be a right sceptre, swayed by a hand of unwavering integrity. "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God, and He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds." The Root of David only can do these great things. The One from whom all the promises made to David sprang, He only can banish the night of fear and failure, disperse the clouds of distrust and doubt and bring in the cloudless day of God's will done on earth. He is the great I AM.

Our hearts thrill at the recital of these titles as John's must have thrilled, and our eyes look eagerly as John's must have looked to see who it is that bears them, and who is great enough to open this great book and accomplish what is written therein. And lo: in the midst of the throne, and all the glorious beings that surround it, stood A LAMB AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN. "He came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." IT IS JESUS … And here the writer must lay down his pen, and here the reader must turn from the printed page and fall down before Him, and in concert with the heavenly hosts, worship Him … His glories cannot be described; but what we know we may sing, and what we sing is heaven's song begun on earth. It is a new song, because it will never grow old and the singers will never weary of it. "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Now let us be impressed with the contrast between the Lamb that was slain and that which we have considered, in chapter 6. There we see men, blinded by their frenzied endeavours at self-glorification, going down to hell and destruction at a headlong gallop. Here we see the One who made Himself of no reputation exalted to the highest place. How blessed it is to turn from them to Him, to cease from men and consider Him who became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He is the Lamb — the little diminutive Lamb. He was of no account in men's estimation. Though He was the joy of heaven, and the delight of His Father's heart, He was ridiculed and hated and executed by them. "They that sat in the gates spoke against Him, and He was the song of the drunkard" (Ps. 69). The highest grades of society to its lowest dregs, condemned and despised and rejected Him. What could He do for others who could not save Himself? Thus they jeered and mocked, and His apparent weakness became the jest of Jerusalem — "Himself He cannot save." But that lowly, lonely Man, crucified in weakness, the Lamb slain, is the Arm of the Lord by whom redemption from all bondage is accomplished, righteousness established on earth, and the Name of God glorified.

We may see in future papers something of what this means, if the Lord will, but here we see at least this great truth declared, "He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

2. The Man Child and the great red Dragon of Chapter 12

The sceptre of the whole earth must finally rest either in the hand of the great red dragon or the Man Child. Who the great red dragon really is is clearly stated in verse 9 of our chapter and his complete fourfold character and activities exposed. He is:
The Great Dragon – the destroyer
The Old Serpent – the deceiver
The Devil – the accuser
and Satan – the adversary

The Man Child is Christ, and He stands out in absolute contrast to the dragon. The grace of God has taught us that He is:
The Saviour – Matthew 1:21
The Truth – John 14:6
The Advocate – 1 John 2:1
The Friend – Luke 7:34

The Devil was not always evil, but now there is not an element of good in him. We believe we are right in accepting the view that in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 there is given in arresting language a description of his greatness and beauty as he was when in the beginning God created him. In rebuking the King of Tyre the prophet by the Spirit breaks out into the description of a being that can be none other than the Devil. "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty … Thou art the anointed Cherub that covereth and I have set thee so. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee … thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering Cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness."

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground … For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell to the sides of the pit." The beginning of his sin was pride, and out of that sprang the determination to be independent of God, and to be as God, ruling a kingdom of his own, a kingdom of darkness, from which the knowledge of God should be utterly excluded. This kingdom bears the character of its founder and must in all things be opposed to God and His kingdom by its very nature. There can be no compromise between light and darkness, no league between good and evil; though with consummate audacity Satan proposed such a compromise to Jesus in the wilderness, when he offered to Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Did he think that as he had beguiled the woman in Eden so he could beguile the Woman's Seed in the wilderness? If so what a surprise, what a check he got! The lie was detected and resisted and the deceiver was defeated. There can be no fellowship between Christ and Belial, the fight must be fought to the finish; it must end in the final and complete overthrow of one or the other.

In his fall from his exalted place the wisdom of this great being was corrupted into devilish subtlety, and he is first introduced in Holy Scripture as the serpent, the deceiver (Gen. 3). It was by his subtlety that Satin beguiled Eve and turned the man and the woman into sinners against God, and by that same subtlety he is blinding men and women today and making them deny the truth of Genesis 3, in which indispensable chapter of the Bible he is exposed as the deceiver and adversary, and his defeat foretold. It does not suit his plans that his ways should be exposed, indeed it suits him well when he can induce men to believe that he does not exist at all, but certain it is that no man was ever of any use to God and an overcomer who did not believe in the existence of a personal Devil.

As we read that chapter we are made to feel that the Lord God had a great compassion for the fallen man and his wife, for He talked with them and drew from them the story of their guilt. But He asked no question of the Devil; his triumph was short lived; and swiftly upon his crime followed his condemnation and sentence. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman. and between thy seed and her Seed: It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His head!" From that time "the old serpent" became the dragon in regard to the woman's Seed. He was on the lookout for it, and determined to destroy it if he could. Cain slew Abel because he was of that wicked one (1 John 3:12). It was the devil's first effort to destroy the woman's seed. He was behind the edict of the Egyptian King that all the male children born to the Israelites should be slain (Exodus). But what a wound was inflicted on him by the Arm of the Lord when Israel marched dry shod through the Red Sea (Isa. 51:10). He put it into the heart of the wicked Athaliah to destroy all the seed royal of the house of Judah to bring to naught the Word of God, but his purpose was thwarted under God's hand by a compassionate princess, who saved the child Joash from the general massacre.

The Devil has no foreknowledge, that is an attribute of God, but we may be sure that he judges shrewdly as to the times, and the stir that was made throughout the hill country of Judea by the miraculous birth of John and the expectation and talk about their coming Lord among such as Simeon and Anna, and all that looked for redemption in Israel must have filled him with suspicion and prepared him to meet the long-promised event, the greatest event in the history of time (Luke 1:2).

The due time then had come; the Woman was to bring forth the Man Child and the great red dragon stood before her to devour her Child as soon as it was born. The woman is Israel, "of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God, blessed for ever." The great sign in heaven does not describe her as she was when her Child was born, but what she is in the thoughts and purposes of God, which thoughts and purposes will all be infallibly established. She is seen clothed with the sun; Christ is to be her glory; she did not own Him when He appeared in lowliness and grace, then "His own received Him not," but she will own Him when He arises as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings; and so great will be her glory then through Him that, "as a consequence her glory of old, before the day dawned, the reflected light of her typical system, is like the moon under her feet. Upon her head the crown of twelve stars speaks of the twelve tribes, planets around the centre Sun" (F.W.Grant). But the due time was the time of her travail, she was in sore bondage under a foreign yoke — the power of the Roman empire, which was and is yet to be the special vessel and instrument of the Devil's power, as is indicated by the seven heads and ten horns. The very fact of Joseph being compelled by the edict of the Imperial Caesar to take Mary his espoused wife to Jerusalem was a proof of Israel's bondage, but even this turned out to the fulfilment of this great event, just as and where God's holy Word had foretold it.

God is never behind His time; the Devil always is when it is a question of overthrowing God's counsels. So we read that Mary brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His Name JESUS. And when the soldiers of Herod arrived to carry out the will of the great red dragon and slay all the children in Bethlehem under two years, Jesus was not there, "for the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. And he arose and took the young Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son." Thus was the great red dragon foiled in his effort to destroy the Man Child and in subsequent efforts also, for even when he succeeded in lashing men to a fury of hatred against Christ, so that they crucified Him, yet God raised Him from the dead, and caught Him up to heaven, and the great events from incarnation to ascension, which are compressed into one brief verse in our chapter, passed into history. "She brought forth a Man Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her Child was caught up to God, and to His throne."

Our chapter contains both history and prophecy; it also teaches deeply important moral lessons as does the whole of the Revelation. Why should Jesus be spoken of here as the Man Child? We believe it is to bring out His character in complete contrast to the great red dragon's. The Man Child seems to speak of His utter dependence upon God. The language of the Man Child is: "Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me to hope when I was upon My mother's breast. I was cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art My God from My mother's belly" (Ps. 22). As the Man Child He never moved from the place of dependence upon God; He did not exercise an independent will. His life was one unbroken obedience.

In the wilderness He did not resist the Tempter by any act or word of divine power, but simply quoted the word of God, for by that word He lived. It was as the Man Child that He said, "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned (instructed), that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened Mine ear and I was not rebellious. I turned not back. I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting" (Isa. 50:4) What could be the answer to that life of childlike obedience to God and dependence upon Him? There could be but one answer, The Men Child is caught up to God and to his throne. The highest place in the universe is accorded to Him who made Himself of no reputation; He must sway a universal sceptre who lived in absolute obedience, and God claims Him who could neither be diverted nor driven from the path of perfect, unwavering trust. On the other hand, the Dragon has been and is yet to be cast down. When first his heart was lifted up with pride and he asserted his independent and disobedient will, he was cast out of the mountain of God. From our chapter we learn that he is to be cast out of the heavens, where he has the seat of his power, for he is the prince of the power of the air, ruling the children of disobedience from thence; in Revelation 20 we learn that he is to be chained in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, and in that same chapter his final and irretrievable doom is described. "And the devil … was cast into the lake of fire … and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Thus shall his kingdom of darkness be brought to an utter end and his power over men and devils cease for ever. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased. The question may arise, Why did not God destroy the devil by His almighty power in the beginning of his sin? The answer is that God does not use His power in an arbitrary way. He will by His almighty power cast the Devil into the lake of fire, when all his works are finished; but those works must be finished first, that none may charge the Judge of all with injustice when He Judges; but the victories that He gains over evil are moral victories. He will fill the heavens and the earth with the beauty of those moral qualities that have proceeded from Himself, but the beauty and perfection of them could only be disclosed in their triumph over evil, "The Son of God was manifested that He might undo the works of the Devil," and if we would learn how He did it we must read the Gospels. He was "meek and lowly in heart", "who did no sins neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:22-24). The prince of this world came, but had nothing in Him; He was the Overcomer, and He Who overcame in apparent weakness, and through unparalleled sorrows, shall shepherd the nations with a rod of iron. The sceptre of the whole earth shall be held in His hand, for He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and He is Lord of lords and King of kings.

And now we come to an astonishing thing. The Man Child who has been caught up to God and His throne, has brethren who are also overcomers (v. 10). They are called "our brethren" by the loud voice that sounds in heaven, but we know from other Scriptures that, "HE is not ashamed to call them brethren." They are born of God, and "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world," and "he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 5). Again John writes to the young men of God's family, "Ye have overcome the wicked one." We learn from our chapter how this was done. "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. AND THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB, AND BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY; AND THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH." The brethren of the tribulation period, "the remnant of the woman's seed," had still to face the fury of the dragon (v. 17), but the warfare was over for these for whom this burst of glad exultation breaks out; they are all those who have followed in the steps of the Man Child, who left them an example; they are the suffering but beloved brotherhood, who through much tribulation have entered the Kingdom; they are the family of God, Satan accused them before God ceaselessly, persistently, in the vain hope it may be of turning God against them, or of proving that they were not one whit worthy of the favour in which they stood before Him, or to gratify his own spite against them since he could no longer oppose them to God by his power or beguile them from Him by his wiles. But if he accused them before God, he also attacked them by false accusations against God; the first weapon in his armoury is always to make them doubt the Word of God and to question His love, but they overcame him.

"By the blood of the Lamb"

This is a plea and a weapon that Satan cannot withstand. If he declares that one of these beloved ones of the Lord is too great a sinner to be saved; the blood of the Lamb is the answer: it cleanses from all sin. If he claims that he has a right to keep that one in bondage, for he is his lawful captive, the blood of the Lamb is the answer: by it we are redeemed. If he declares that God must punish sin and cannot possibly love the sinner: the blood of the Lamb is the answer, for it tells of the great sacrifice that has for ever glorified God's inflexible justice and is the pledge and token of His great love. When Satan made his great attack on Martin Luther in his Wartburg prison, pressing his many sins upon him, he was put to flight by the intrepid reformer by these words, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses ME from all sin."

"By the Word of their testimony"

What they believed became their testimony, and what they believed and testified is the truth in contrast to the lie, "We have seen and do testify," cried the apostle, "that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." "We also believe, and therefore speak." The lie in Eden that turned Eve and Adam from God, was that He did not love them as much as He seemed to do, that He was keeping something from them that would be good for them, and if they would but hearken to Satan and follow him and turn away from God they would do well for themselves. And they believed the lie, and the foul poison of it has passed down from generation to generation. It changed the very nature of the primal pair and all their progeny have come into the world in distrust and dread of God. But God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, and the life of the one who believes that is no longer darkened by the Devil's lie; he is in the light, and the light is in him; it has shined in his heart "to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus." He knows the truth, and the truth has set him free, and he shines as a light in the world, holding forth the word of life. The man with the light in his heart and the truth upon his lips is an overcomer; the devil is powerless against him.

"They loved not their lives to the death"

The ancient book of Job reveals some wonderful things to us. We learn from it that Satan taunted God with the fact that His creature man loved himself more than he loved his God. "Skin for skin," he cried, "all that a man has will he give for his life; put forth Thine hand and touch his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face." But these who overcame Satan loved not their lives to the death. For God's sake they were killed all the day long. Rather than give up their God and their faith in Him they would go to the stake, and did with joy in their hearts and songs on their lips. Thus were they tried, and Satan was permitted to do it that his lie might be exposed and that he might be defeated by the lowly followers of Jesus whom he despised. He has changed his tactics in these days, and he works now by his wiles in the endeavour to make the children of God put themselves first and live for self instead of God. The conflict is not less real and the issue not less glorious, and he who bears his cross and says, No, to self and follows Jesus, is an overcomer. He shows and declares the fact that God and Christ are more to him than self and his own life. "And he that overcometh and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received from My Father." Such is the Lord's own promise, and the meaning of it is, that those who overcome shall share His glory and power, who is the great Overcomer.

Thus in spite of Satan's great efforts to overthrow and bring to naught the purposes of God, the Edenic sentence upon him shall manifestly be executed, and the whole universe shall see that the woman's Seed has indeed bruised his head and annulled his power, and that at the very time and in the very conflict in which he hoped to destroy Him. And while Christ shall stand forth as the supreme Victor, he will not stand alone, for "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20). Such is the promise to the whole family of God. Thus we see the way of victory and how we may be more than conquerors through Him who has conquered and who has loved us.

3. A Trinity of Evil, and the King of Kings

There is plenty of proof in Scripture that one of the chief weapons that Satan uses in his fight against God is imitation. Jannes and Jambres, who were his ministers in Egypt, withstood Moses by imitating his miracles, until he brought lice out of the dust — life out of death, then they and their master were baffled and had to confess that that was the finger of God (Ex. 8; 2 Tim. 3). Now he transforms himself into an angel of light and his ministers appear as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11), and in this way he gains the greatest apparent triumphs, and the times are made exceedingly perilous for all who would live godly, for the form of godliness is retained and boasted in by his ministers while the power of it is denied (2 Tim. 3), and nothing could be more deadening to the conscience than that.

But Satan's audacity in this respect has not yet reached its limit; in his final effort to hold the earth against the rightful King, he will present to men a trinity of evil in contrast to the Divine Trinity, and so successful will he be that he will carry apostate Christendom with him and gather the kings of the whole earth together to make war with the Lamb (Rev. 17). This may seem an extraordinary thing, but we need not be surprised at it, for he once succeeded in uniting the princes of this world to crucify the Lord of glory, when He had come into the world full of grace for men's blessing; and if he was able to do that, he will have no difficulty in uniting them against Him when He comes in righteousness to judge. Moreover, because men received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, "God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (1 Thess. 2). God is the preserver of all men, but if they won't have Him and His mercy, and if they will fight against Him there is nothing for them but the deceptions of the devil, and damnation — the just judgment of God.

In the previous great contrast we noted the casting down of Satan from heaven (Rev. 12). That event will be a warning to him that his time is short, and he will make frenzied efforts to fortify the world and hold it against the woman's Seed, its rightful King, whom he hates — and he will find two men ambitious and daring enough to listen to his proposals and carry out his plans. They are described in Revelation 13 as beasts, because they will be beastly in character, as men must be who deliberately and completely apostatise from God. Our space forbids any attempt to interpret all the details by which they can be identified, but it is clear that the first of the two — called THE BEAST — will be a super-warrior-politician, by his power the old Roman Empire, under which Jesus was crucified, will be resuscitated. For a short space it will be a power to be wondered at, combining in itself all the features that made the three former powers notable in their day and yet diverse from them all (Dan. 7), but the power of it, or of the beast, the head of it, will be more than human; it will be Satanic, for we read: "And the dragon gave him (the beast) his power, and his seat, and his authority" (Rev. 13:2). He will exercise this authority over all kindreds and tongues and nations (v. 7), and they will believe all that he claims to be. In him man will be blasphemously deified. He will usurp the place of God in the minds and souls of men and they will worship him.

The second beast (vv. 11-18) will be more subtle than the first; the first will infatuate men by his power and audacity; the second will work by deception (v. 14). He will appear as a lamb, in imitation of Christ, for he will be the anti-Christ, but when he shall speak he will reveal his true character for he will speak as a dragon; he will he Satan's mouth-piece. What a contrast he will be to all that Christ was who spoke His Father's word and was Himself all that He said. As anti-Christ he will appeal first to the Jews, and they will receive him. Because they would not receive Christ when He came in His Father's name, they will receive this deceiver when he comes in his own name (John 5:43). He is also spoken of as THE FALSE PROPHET; this is his special designation in the Revelation (chap. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10) and as such he will deceive apostate Christendom and the whole world, by doing great wonders. He will represent himself as equal to any of the Old Testament prophets by calling fire down from heaven, and greater than any New Testament Apostle by giving life and speech to the image of the beast, and will compel all men to worship it or be slain. The seat of his power will be at Jerusalem, as the throne of the beast will be at Rome, and the rulers of the nation of the Jews will make a covenant with him (Isa. 28:14-15). But a man who has cast off all fear of God will not regard any treaty with men and, in alliance with the beast, he will break the covenant and terribly oppress the nation (Dan. 9:26-27). It is evident that he will be a Jew, for the Jews would not be likely to receive him if he were not, but that it is said that he will disregard "the God of his fathers" confirms this. He will magnify himself above all gods, i.e., he will not permit any religion in the land that does not centre in himself, and he will abolish all God-ordained institutions too, for he will not regard the desire of women, which is surely marriage and the home life. These two things which make life bearable and are the greatest spiritual and natural blessings — the recognition of God and family life — will be the objects of his special hatred. These two devil-empowered men are brought together in 2 Thessalonians 2, and they are always together in the Revelation, except in chapter 17, where the beast appears as the head of the Roman earth. The beast is "that man of sin," "the son of perdition," and the false prophet is "that wicked [or the lawless] one". With Satan as their energising force they will form the trinity of evil.

The great clash between this evil alliance and the power of the Lamb will be at Armageddon, and the kings of the earth and the whole world will be gathered there by the lies that will go out of their mouths (Rev. 16:13). These lies are likened to frogs, that are creatures of slime that croak in darkness. They are the spirits of devils that gather these kings together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. We know well what the lie will be that will go out of the mouth of the devil: it will be the same that went out of his mouth at the beginning, "Ye shall not surely die … ye shall be as gods." Do not fear the judgment of God, follow me and I will exalt you. That was his ancient lie; Adam believed it, and men blinded by the devil still believe it, but in this coming day they will believe it with a great enthusiasm and follow him in his war upon God. The beast and the false prophet will supplement this lie. Out of their mouths will go the boastful and blasphemous lies of man's greatness and independence of God, that all that they will need will be "the will to power" in order not only to drive God from the earth but to "hunt Him from His heaven," and if men must worship let them worship MAN, for man as he will be seen in the beast, is greater than God — the finished product of the race in rebellion against God. "The kings of the earth will set themselves, and the rulers will take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (Ps. 2). "The kings of them shall have one mind and shall give their power and strength to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen and faithful" (Rev. 17:4).

The battle is described in Revelation 19, but first there is revealed the One who will come forth from heaven. In righteousness to judge and make war upon these blasphemous and wilfully deceived multitudes. What a contrast is He to these evil leaders of men and Satan who will control them. A fourfold description is given of Him:
He is called THE WORD OF GOD.

All these great and glorious titles belong to Him in the counsels of God, and no power can rob Him of them. They were His when He came into the world long ago, though they were not recognised by men. He was the Faithful and True in all His life of service on earth, from the glory to the glory. He had a Name that no man knew but Himself. Even the disciples did not understand Him. They saw Him in apparent human weakness, as when asleep upon a pillow in the hinder part of their boat in the storm, and in answer to their cry of despair, they saw Him rise up in the majesty of His divine power and command the storm to silence, and they were filled with fear and said, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and waves obey Him?" They did not know Him in the inscrutability of His divine and eternal Being, the Son in the Divine Trinity and yet a Man dwelling among them in the fullness of grace.

"The Father only His blest Name
  Of Son can comprehend."

He is the Word of God, the full declaration of what God is. He came into the world two thousand years ago to reveal God's love to men and to show the infinite pity of His heart to them in their misery and sin. He did this fully, blessedly, completely, and He is coming again to show just as perfectly what God's righteous judgment is, and what the fierceness of His wrath against sin. Finally, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The wise men from the East recognised this when they came from afar asking for the King of the Jews. They owned His wider claim, as all nations will be compelled to do, and as He Himself declared when He stood a fettered prisoner before Caiaphas: "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of the heavens" (Matt. 26:64).

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathering together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (Rev. 19).

Thus is unfolded in solemn and graphic language, the full-blown result of the old serpent's lie in Eden; we see that men who believe that lie are puffed up with pride by it and follow the devil in his rebellion against God, his willing dupes. This iniquity doth already work, and only the truth will preserve any man from It. The truth does not puff up; it bumbles the man who receives it; it leads him to confess that he is a sinner indeed, and to cast himself upon the mercy of God, and Christ becomes the righteousness of all who do this, and these will be the armies of heaven who follow their Lord, when He goes forth to victory, upon white horses, clothed in flue linen, clean and white. These are they who believe on, and love and worship the Lamb, for He is KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.