The Revelation.

An Expository Outline by Hamilton Smith.

The Vision of Christ (Rev. 1)
The Seven Churches (Rev. 2 — 3)
The Throne (Rev. 4)
The Book (Rev. 5)
The Seals (Rev. 6)
The Saved Remnant (Rev. 7)
The Trumpets (Rev. 8)
The Woes (Rev. 9)
The Witnesses of God (Rev. 10 - 11:18)
The Dragon (Rev. 11:19 - 12)
The Beasts (Rev. 13)
The Remnant (Rev. 14)
The Vials (Rev. 15 - 16)
The Woman and the Beast (Rev. 17)
The Great City Babylon (Rev. 18)
The Marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:1 - 10)
The Appearing of Christ (Rev. 19:11 - 20:3)
The Millennium (Rev. 20:4 - 15)
The Eternal State (Rev. 21:1 - 8)
The New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9 - 22:5)
The Closing Exhortations (Rev. 22:6-21).


As the time approaches for the fulfilment of much that is foretold in the Book of Revalation there is a desire in the hearts of many of God's dear children for instruction in the prophetic word; such will doubtless find this Expository Outline of real help. It was written by a servant of the Lord, now with Christ, whose clear and simple expositions of Scripture have been valued by saints of God in different parts of the world, and it is issued with the desire and prayer that all who read it will be enlightened, edified, and refreshed by the truth it unfolds.


The Revelation is the only book in the New Testament that is wholly given to prophecy. There were many prophets, in Old Testament days, who warned the people of God, and the nations, of the coming judgments on the wicked, and who foretold the final blessing for the world under the glorious reign of Christ. These prophecies, however, were confined to earth and limited to time. In contrast to these prophecies of old, the Revelation not only unrolls before us the future course of events in time, but also lifts the veil that we may look into eternity, and learn the blessings that await God's people in the eternal state.

In reading the Revelation, as indeed other parts of the Word, we do well to remember that one great difference between the writings of men and the word of God lies in the fact that all that God has recorded, whether by history or prophecy, has a moral purpose in view. For this reason many details are entirely omitted that men would carefully have recorded, while many incidents that God has seen good to record would have been passed over in silence by men.

Seeking to profit by this marvellous unfolding of the future, we have to beware, then, in reading the book, of doing so to gratify the natural love of prying into the future and seek rather that this wonderful and searching unfolding of the future may have a moral effect upon our lives in the present.

Further, we have to guard against the danger in reading Scripture, and very specially the Revelation, of drawing deductions from what is said in the endeavour to learn details of a future existence, as to which there is no direct reference in Scripture. Let us remember, as it has been pointed out, that the instant we begin to draw deductions from Scripture we open the door to every imagination of the human mind.

We cannot but feel how fittingly the Revelation is the last book in the Bible; for in it we are allowed to see the fully developed result of the lawlessness of all the ages. We see all the evil of the professing church, Israel, and the nations working to the terrible climax of rebellion and apostacy, and receiving its final doom in overwhelming judgment. We see the power of the devil forever broken, and death and hades cast into the lake of fire.

Moreover, we are permitted to look beyond the final judgment of all evil, and see all the purposes of God's heart fulfilled, the glory of Christ brought into display and the eternal blessing of His people secured.

How good then to humbly seek to "read," "hear," and "keep" the words of this prophecy for the time is at hand when all will be fulfilled (Rev. 1:3). Cherishing these communications we shall surely be kept in moral separation from this judgment-doomed world, while walking in the light of the glorious world to come with all the blessings of the eternal state.

1 The Vision of Christ (Revelation 1)

(V. 1) The opening verses emphasise the deep importance of this portion of God's word, by reminding us that it is a revelation from God, to Jesus Christ, viewed as the Son of Man, and for His servants, concerning "things which must shortly come to pass." The One through whom, as the lowly Man on earth, God has been revealed, is the One through whom, as the glorified Man, the things to come are now revealed.

How blessed to realise that, as to the future, we are not left to the vain and conflicting speculations of men, who seek to draw conclusions from past history or present events, as to the future course of the world. We have the veil uplifted by One who can, not only with omniscient knowledge reveal the things "which must shortly come to pass" but who, with omnipotent power, can accomplish every event foretold.

Further, these future events are revealed to believers viewed as servants. With such knowledge we shall be able to serve intelligently, in line with the great purposes that God is bringing to pass; we shall be warned to walk in separation from a world marked by violence and corruption, and that is about to come under judgment; above all, we shall be encouraged in our service as we learn the glory to which it leads when at last the servants of the Lamb will see Him face to face and serve Him in the heavenly sphere (Rev. 22:3-4).

Then we learn that these things were not made known by direct communication, as when the Lord was present with His disciples, but generally through a representative angel to the Apostle John. Moreover, they were not only communicated, but also "signified," a word that would include instruction by visions as well as communications by words.

(V. 2) This revelation to which John bore witness comes to us with all the authority of the word of God, testified by Jesus Christ, through words and visions. So at the end of the Revelation John can say, "I John saw these things, and heard them" (Rev. 22:8).

(V. 3) A special blessing is pronounced upon the one who reads, and upon those who hear, the words of this prophecy, and observe the things written therein. As the Revelation opens, so it closes with again pronouncing blessing on the one that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book (Rev. 22:7). We are thus warned against the neglect of the Revelation as if its contents were mere matters of idle curiosity and had no bearing on our practical Christian lives. We are exhorted to heed and treasure the truths of which it speaks. It is only as we do so that our spirits will be kept in calmness in the midst of the growing apostasy of Christendom, and the increasing violence and corruption that results from the breakdown of government in the hands of men.

(Vv. 4, 5) The salutation of John follows. In addressing the seven churches in Asia, every Divine Person is presented in a way that agrees with the character of the Revelation. God is presented as the Eternal God; the Spirit is presented symbolically in the fulness of His power before the throne from which the world is governed. The Lord Jesus is seen "who is the faithful witness," as proved in the past by His perfect life on earth; who is pre-eminent as risen from the dead, as seen in His present position, crowned with glory and honour; and who is the Prince over all the kings of the earth, to be made manifest in the near future.

(Vv. 5, 6) At once the church that receives the Revelation responds to this salutation. The One who is the faithful witness to God, who has broken the power of death, and will yet reign over all the kings of the earth, is the One who loves us and has washed us from our sins. In the course of the prophecy we have a solemn view of Christ as the Judge. We hear Him passing judgment on the professing church; we learn of the tribulation that Israel will yet pass through, and the judgment that will fall upon the nations; finally there passes before us the judgment of the dead at the great white throne. But in the face of the coming judgments believers have the blessed assurance that the One who is going to judge has placed them beyond all judgment by having borne their judgment and washed them from their sins. Further, we are assured that as believers we are not only free from judgment but shall share in the glorious kingdom of Christ, for we have been made "a kingdom" to reign, and priests to offer praise to God.

The deliverance from judgment and the blessings we shall yet enjoy are not the outcome of any merit in ourselves; we owe all "to Him." Thus, with great delight, believers ascribe all praise to Christ, as they say, "To Him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen." The government of the world, committed to the Gentiles, broke down at the outset when the first head of the nations said, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan 4:30 N. Tr.). From that day onwards men, one after another, have arisen, each seeking to obtain dominion over the nations for his own glory; only to find, as with the first head of the Gentiles that, though he may be used by God in His governmental dealings with men, and thus for a time he prospers, yet in the end he is overwhelmed in humiliating defeat. At last it will be manifested that all "the glory" will be given to the One against whom "the kings of the earth set themselves," and His "dominion" will be "for ever and ever. Amen."

(V. 7) There follows a statement which sums up the great subject of the Revelation — the judgment of both Jews and Gentiles by which the earth will be prepared for the glorious reign of Christ. When He comes to act in judgment it will not be as with the rapture of the church, to be seen only by those who are caught up to meet Him in the air. It will be a public coming — "every eye shall see Him." Believers and unbelievers, Jews and Gentiles will know that He has come, and that His coming will mean judgment for all the wicked. Hence we read "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him."

(V. 8) The coming of Christ as the Judge, to deal with all the evil and introduce His kingdom, will establish the great truth that God is the first and the last, the eternal One, the Almighty.

We learn then from these introductory verses that in spite of all the breakdown of man in responsibility — whether the Jew, the Gentile, or the Church — with the resulting rebellion against God and violence and corruption that fills the world, God is on the throne, the Spirit is before the throne, and Christ is coming to deal with the evil and establish His glory and dominion for ever and ever. Moreover, believers are presented as separated from a world under judgment by the blood that has washed them from their sins, and fitted them to share in the glory and blessings of the coming Kingdom of Christ. Seeing we look for such things we may surely say with the Apostle Peter, "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness" (2 Peter 3:11).

This introduction prepares us for the first division of the Revelation comprised in the remaining verses of this first chapter. In this division we have the Lord's direct commission to John, and the presentation of Himself as the Son of Man to whom all judgment is committed.

(V. 9) John speaks of himself as a "brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation, and kingdom and patience, in Jesus." He does not view himself as a member of the kingdoms of this world with their passing glory, but of the coming kingdom of Christ, for which, as believers, we have to wait in patience. Moreover, his witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, which warns men of the coming judgment and overthrow of the kingdoms of this world, brought him into tribulation, which led to his banishment to the Isle of Patmos. Thus, in John, we see the true position of the church while passing through a world which has rejected Christ, and while waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.

(Vv. 10, 11) As so often with saints persecuted for Christ's sake, John finds that his sufferings become the occasion for special encouragement from the Lord. So on the Lord's Day — the first day of the week — in the mighty power of the Spirit, John has special visions and revelations which he is to write and send to seven representative churches.

(Vv. 12-16) Turning to see the One that speaks, John has a vision of the Son of Man, who is presented in the character of the Ancient of Days described by Daniel (Dan. 7:9-13). It is no longer the Son of Man in humiliation, scorned and rejected by men, but the Son of Man in glory, about to act as the Judge. It is no longer with garments laid aside and girded for the service of the saints, but with judicial robes. The affections are held in by righteousness, set forth in the golden girdle. The intense holiness of His judgments may be set forth by "His head and hairs white like wool, as white as snow." The searching character of His judgments are surely brought before us by "His eyes as a flame of fire" from which nothing is hid. His feet "like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace," may speak of an infinitely holy walk that stands the testing of God "as a consuming fire." His voice as the sound of many waters overwhelms every opposing voice. In His hand He held seven stars which we learn, a little later, set forth the seven representatives of the churches, showing that all is held in His power. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, speaking of the word which pierces "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." His countenance was as the sun shines in his strength; speaking of the light that exposes the darkness of this world.

(V. 17) Is it not evident that every symbol displays the Lord in the character of the Judge? This to John, who had known the Lord in His infinite grace and love, was overwhelming. The result is that the disciple who had once sat in the presence of the Lord with his head leaning on Jesus' breast, now "fell at His feet as dead." Nevertheless for one who is "a brother and companion in the tribulation, and kingdom and patience in Jesus" there is nothing to fear. The One who is about to judge lays His hand on the believer, and says, "Fear not." At once the Lord tells us why the believer need have no fear in the presence of the Judge. The glory of His Person and the greatness of His work remove our fear. In His Person He is "the first and the last, the living One." He is the eternally existing One. Nevertheless He became flesh and died, and is risen to live for evermore. For the unbeliever He is the Son of Man to whom all judgment is committed. For the believer He is also the Son of Man who has broken the power of death and the grave.

(V. 19) Having removed all fear from His servant, the Lord indicates the three main divisions of the Revelation.

Firstly, the things which John had seen — the glory of Jesus as He walks in the midst of the seven churches (Rev. 1).

Secondly, "the things which are" — the present church period set forth by seven representative churches (Rev. 2 and 3).

Thirdly, "the things that are about to be after these" — the events that follow when the church has been taken from the earth to be with Christ in glory (Rev. 4 — 22).

(V. 20) Before entering upon the second division of the Revelation, the Lord explains the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks. Stars are subordinate heavenly lights, and as a figure would appear to signify those who, by gift or experience, are fitted under the guidance of the Lord to minister heavenly truth to God's people. Further, the stars are said to be the angels of the seven churches. In Scripture we find that the term "angel" is at times used to signify "representation" and does not always necessarily imply an angelic being. In this passage the angel would appear to signify those who were the responsible representatives of the assemblies before Christ. It has been pointed out that we can understand an angel being employed as a means of communication between the Lord and His servant John, but it would be difficult to think that John would be employed by the Lord to write a letter from Christ to a literal angelic being.

Finally, we learn that the candlesticks are symbols of the churches in their responsibility to be a light for Christ in the world from which He is absent.

2 The Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3)

The first chapter has presented to us the vision of Christ, the Son of Man, in His character as Judge, forming the first division of the Revelation, spoken of in verse 19 as "The things which thou hast seen." In the second and third chapters there passes before us "The things which are." It is plain, from Revelation 1:4, 11, and 20, that the Revelation was addressed to seven churches existing in the days of the Apostles in a province of Asia Minor. But it can hardly be questioned that these particular churches were selected in order to present pictures of the moral conditions that would successively develop in the Christian profession from the days of the Apostles until the close of the church period. Thus, "the things which are" prophetically present the whole period of the church's history on earth. Moreover, these seven churches are seen under the symbol of seven candlesticks. This surely indicates that these addresses view the church in its responsibility to be a light for Christ in the time of His absence.

Further, we see that the Lord is presented as walking in the midst of the churches as the Judge, to discover how far the Church has answered to its responsibility to shine for Christ. From these addresses we learn that the church, as with all others, would utterly break down in responsibility. We see the root of all the failure exposed, its progress traced through the ages, and its end foretold when the professing church will be utterly rejected as nauseous to Christ. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the failure we learn there is that which the Lord approves, and that it is possible for the individual to overcome that which the Lord condemns; and to such there are special promises of blessing.

How encouraging that, in the closing days of Christendom, we are not left to form our own judgment of the evils of Christendom, nor of that which has the approval of the Lord in the midst of failure. In these addresses we have the mind of the Lord. In each address we have the exhortation, "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." How deeply important then that we should listen to the Lord's words, recorded by the Spirit, and thus learn the Lord's mind for the individual in a day of ruin. If, however, we speak of the ruin of the church, let us ever remember, as it has been said, that, "as regards the purpose of God the church cannot be ruined, but as regards its actual present condition as a testimony for God on earth it is in ruin."

Further, if we own the ruin of the church in responsibility let us beware of being content with the knowledge that as believers our salvation is sure, and remain listlessly indifferent to the Lord's mind for us in the midst of the ruin. Let us beware of thinking, as one has said, "that the power of the Lord is enfeebled when there is actual present ruin. His working will be according to the state the church is in, not the state she is not in … What we want is … real practical faith in the application of the resources of God to meet present circumstances … Living faith sees not only the need but also the thoughts and mind of the Lord about that need, and counts on the present love of the Lord."

With the desire to know His mind may we consider the addresses to the seven churches and thus refuse all that the Lord condemns while seeking to answer to that which has His approval.

(1) The Address to the Church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7)

In this address, may we not say that we have a presentation of the church, as seen by Christ in the closing days of the Apostles? In each address it will be found that the Lord presents Himself in a character that corresponds to the condition of the church. At this early stage of the church's history there were no outward signs of departure. Christ is still seen as the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and walks in the midst of the churches. Does this not indicate that those who were set in subordinate authority under the guidance of the Lord to represent His interests in the assembly, were still held in His power and under His direction? Moreover, the Lord was still able to walk in the midst of the churches, and not outside the door as in Laodicea.

In this early stage of the church's history there was still much that the Lord could approve. The saints were marked by labour and endurance in the Lord's service. They had borne trial for Christ's Name, and had not wearied. They had resisted every attack of Satan from without to corrupt the church by false pretension and evil deeds.

Nevertheless, while outwardly blameless, the Lord, who knows the heart, has to say, "I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love." Here we have the root of all failure in the church in responsibility. One has said, "What injures and finally ruins, is invariably from within, not from without. In vain does Satan seek to cast down those who, resting on Christ's love, have Him as the loved object of their life and soul." Having lost their first love for Christ, the Lord has to pronounce the solemn words, "Thou art fallen." However outwardly blameless their testimony might be before the world, the church was a fallen church in the sight of the Lord. The warning follows that unless there was repentance their candlestick would be removed. If the first love for Christ was lost, the light before men would fail.

What is true of the church as a whole, is surely true in the history of any local assembly, as, indeed, of each individual believer. The root of all failure is within, in the heart, and unless there is repentance the outward testimony will, in the government of God, cease to have any power.

Nevertheless, if, as we know, there was no recovery on the part of the church as a whole, it was possible for individuals to overcome this solemn inward failure and to maintain first love to Christ. To such the Lord would reveal Himself as the Tree of Life — the hidden source of spiritual sustenance in the paradise of God, where no enemy will ever intrude to draw our hearts from Christ.

(2) The Address to the Church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)

This address would surely indicate the days of persecution that we know the church was allowed to pass through after its declension from apostolic purity.

The Lord presents Himself in a way that would be of the deepest encouragement to saints that were being persecuted, even to death. He is before all that rise up against His people, and will remain when the persecutors have for ever passed away. If the saints are called to face death let them remember that Christ has been into death and lives.

In Smyrna we see the fresh evils by which the church was attacked; the tribulation the Lord allowed to arrest these growing evils; and the devotedness of individual overcomers who, in the midst of persecution, were faithful to death.

In this period of the church's history the effort of Satan to corrupt the church and mar all testimony took a twofold form. Firstly, there was the rise of the corrupting influence, within the Christian circle, of those who sought to add Judaism to Christianity. Secondly, opposition was raised to Christianity from without by Gentile persecutors. Both evils are traced to Satan. Regarding the judaising teachers, as long as the apostles were on earth all Satan's efforts to have Judaism recognised in the church of God were frustrated. After their departure there arose not only judaising individuals, but a definite party, here called the synagogue of Satan, that sought to attach the forms, ceremonies, and principles of Judaism to Christianity. This evil has been working ever since, so that to-day the Christian profession has lost its true heavenly character and become a great worldly system with magnificent buildings, and forms, and ceremonies, that appeal to the natural man after the pattern of the Jewish system.

In the presence of this grave departure the Lord allowed the church to pass through a period of persecution that brought to light, in the midst of the increasing darkness, those who were true to Himself, being "faithful to death." Such have the assurance of the Lord that He is over all, and has set a limit to the sufferings of His people. He will reward their faithfulness to death with a crown of life, and the promise that, though they may pass through death, they will never "be hurt of the second death."

(3) The Address to the Church in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17)

In this address we see the further departure of the professing church that followed the days of persecution, and that was the outcome of the teaching and practices of the judaising party within the profession.

To the Christian profession of this period the Lord presents Himself as the One with "the sharp sword with two edges." The solemn condition of the church is exposed by the cutting edge of the word of God. To link Judaism with Christianity is an attempt to accommodate Christianity to the world by the adoption of that which appeals to the sight and sense of the natural man. It ends not in drawing people out of the world, but in leading the Christian profession into the world. So the Lord has to say to the church of this period, "I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan's throne is." Where we dwell is a serious indication of what our hearts desire. To dwell where Satan's throne is would surely indicate a state of heart that desires to dwell under the patronage and glitter of a world of which Satan is the prince.

Nevertheless, though seeking the patronage of the world, at this period of the church's history, the great cardinal truths as to the Person and work of Christ were still maintained, for the Lord can say, "Thou holdest fast my Name and hast not denied my faith." As we know, councils were held which refused every effort of Arianism to deny the deity of Christ, and which asserted the great truths of the faith in the face of persecution and martyrdom.

Notwithstanding this measure of faithfulness to Christ and the faith, the church, having fallen under the patronage of the world, adopted the methods of the world and fell under the evils that marked Balaam of old. There arose in the professing church a class of men who, like that wicked man, turned ministry into a profitable profession and thus linked the church with the world and robbed it of its true position of a chaste virgin espoused to Christ. This, again, opened the door to Nicolaitanism, which apparently was the Antinomian doctrine that held the practical life of godliness to be of little account, seeing the believer is justified by faith. This was turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. Against such the Lord would use the two-edged sword of the word that truly tells us of the grace of God, but also warns us that "our God is a consuming fire."

The overcomer that refused to settle down in the world seeking public approval by adopting its methods would be rewarded with the secret approval of the Lord, and be sustained by Christ as "the hidden manna," who, in His pathway through this world, was a stranger with not where to lay His head.

(4) The Address to the Church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29)

Can it be questioned that in this address we have a forecast of the condition of the professing church in medieval times? The Lord is presented as the Son of God with eyes like to a flame of fire, discerning all evil, and with feet like fine brass, prepared to act against the evil.

The Lord's words indicate that at this period the professing church had two outstanding marks. Firstly, on the part of many there was great devotedness expressed by their works, love, faith, service, and endurance. Does not history confirm the Lord's words, for we know that in spite of much ignorance and superstition there were, during the middle ages, a great number of individuals marked by personal devotedness, unsparing self-denial, and patient suffering for Christ's sake.

Secondly, in spite of this devotedness on the part of individuals, the Lord's words indicate that at this period the professing church reached "the depths of Satan." For then it was there came to the fore that fearful system known as the Papacy, and symbolised by "that woman Jezebel." In this system we see the exaltation of the flesh, for this woman "calls herself a prophetess." The church takes the place of a teacher to enunciate doctrine, leading to an unholy alliance with the world, and the setting up of a system of idolatry in the worship of images and saints. Here we see a great advance on the evil in Pergamos. There the church was settling down under the patronage of the world where Satan is enthroned. In Thyatira we see that the outcome of dwelling in the world is that the professing church seeks to exalt itself by ruling over the world and pandering to its lusts. The outcome of this fearful system is a generation within the professing church that comes under the sentence of death, and the searching judgments of the Lord, according to their works.

Nevertheless, in the presence of this corrupting system of evil the Lord had a remnant, who were personally free from its teaching, and strangers to the depths of Satan into which it had fallen. Such were not to look for any repentance or reformation in this awful system, but to hold fast to the truth they had until the Lord comes. Then they will have their reward. Having refused to reign in the world during the absence of Christ, they will rule in power over the nations in the day of His glory. In the meantime the overcomer will know Christ as the Morning Star — the One who lives for His people in all their trials, before the day dawns when He will come forth as the Sun of righteousness.

(5) The Address to the Church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6)

To this church the Lord is presented as the One "that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars." However much Romanism may have assumed "power over the nations," it still remains true that the fulness of power, set forth by "the seven Spirits of God," is with the Lord; and, however great the departure from the truth, there are those, symbolised by the seven stars, through whom He can give heavenly light to His people. Thus we know that in spite of the power and assumption of Rome, there arose those who withstood the evils of this system. Alas! whatever resistance to error, and whatever revival of truth there was in this movement, which we speak of as the Reformation, in the hands of man it has broken down. As ever man fails in responsibility. The result has been the development of Protestantism which has indeed "a name" that it lives, and thus stands for the truth before men, but the Lord has to say, as to fact, that in His sight, "Thou … art dead." We may, indeed, be thankful that through this stand against Romanism an open Bible has been won for God's people and the great truth of justification by faith re-asserted. But, alas! content with mere orthodoxy, the Bible has become to the mass little more than a dead letter, and its truths not being received in personal faith, leave the lives of the mass unchanged. One has said, "Nothing is more common among Protestants than to admit a thing to be perfectly true because it is in the word of God, without the smallest intention of acting upon it."

Such a condition can only lead to the judgment of the Lord. His coming will find all lifeless professors asleep even as it will find the world (1 Thess. 5:2-6).

Nevertheless, as in corrupt and idolatrous Romanism there is found a devoted remnant, so amongst the dead orthodoxy of Protestantism there are "a few names" that form a remnant, of whom the Lord can say that they "have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy." In the midst of a lifeless profession they personally walked with Christ, and their names will be retained in the book of life, and publicly owned before the Father and His angels.

(6) The Address to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13)

To this assembly the Lord does not present Himself in a judicial aspect as about to judge, nor in an official way as directing the assemblies, but rather in His moral attributes as "the Holy" and "the True." This is blessedly in keeping with the moral condition of the assembly of whom the Lord can say, thou "hast kept my word, and hast not denied my Name." In the midst of general departure they cherished and obeyed the Lord's word, and above all they jealously maintained the glory of the Person of Christ, and refused every "denial" of His Name.

The Lord who holds the key can use it on behalf of such. In spite of all the power of the enemy He opens doors of service for them, in accord with His will, and closes doors that would lead into a path contrary to His mind. Such may have but a little strength and make no great appeal to the world as in the case of Thyatira; nor have they any name for a great reformation as in the case of Sardis. But if not marked by anything that the world can wonder at and admire, they had the approval of the Lord, and in the day to come every opposer will learn that they are loved of the Lord.

In this assembly have we not the Lord's forecast that in the midst of the increasing corruptions of Christendom, and before the end of the Christian period, a testimony would be raised to the truths of Christ's word, and the supreme authority and preciousness of His Name?

If, however, amidst the prevailing gloom, God raises up this fresh testimony, we are also warned that Satan will seek to raise up a counter-testimony by a revival of Judaism with its forms and ceremonies. We know that the revival of the truth of the church contained in Christ's word was at once met by a great outburst of ritualism and superstition by which Satan has sought to nullify the word of Christ, and draw hearts from the Person of Christ, and thus rob the Christian of all true service and worship.

If such are warned of the opposition they will meet from Satan, they are also encouraged to patiently endure, knowing that if they are kept through present trials, they will be kept from the hour of tribulation that is soon coming "upon all the world."

Owing to their "little strength," and the constant conflict entailed by the opposition of Satan who seeks by false religious systems to rob the saints of the truth, this assembly is especially exposed to the danger of giving up standing firmly for the truth that has been recovered to them. To meet this danger they are exhorted to "hold fast" that which they have — the truth, the preciousness of the Name of Christ, and the love and approval of the Lord. To let go these great blessings will result in the loss of their crown of reward in the day to come. To encourage such to "hold fast" the Lord sets before them His coming, for which they will have to wait but a little while, for He is coming quickly.

The overcomer — the one who "holds fast," will have a bright reward in the day of glory. Taking heed to the Lord's warning to "hold fast," and being content with a little strength and thus to be of small account in the world's esteem to-day, he will have a position of power in the day to come. Making everything of the Name of Christ in the day of His rejection and in a world that increasingly slights that Name, he will have the Name of Christ displayed in him in that home of glory, the New Jerusalem.

(7) The Address to the Church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22)

In the last address we learn the solemn end of the increasing failure of the church in responsibility throughout the whole church period. We see, too, how the reviving grace of the Lord has been abused, and how little His warnings have been heeded. Nevertheless, we learn that amidst all the failure the Lord remains the unchanging resource of His people, and that in the darkest day there is richest blessing for the individual believer.

In striking contrast to the great Christian profession that has been neither faithful to God nor a true witness before men, the Lord presents Himself as "the Amen" — the One through whom every purpose of God will be fulfilled, as "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God," where all will be according to God.

Then there passes before us a solemn picture of the last stage of the professing church. The failure that commenced with the loss of first love to Christ, ends in such utter indifference to Christ, that the church is unmoved even though Christ is outside their door, and deaf to every appeal by which He would seek to win their hearts. The grace that has restored to us an open Bible, and revived the great truths concerning Christ and the church, is so abused by the Christian profession that it ends in the great mass using the truth to exalt themselves and boast that they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. As ever, the vanity of boasters blinds them to their true condition. The self-complacent mass know not that in the sight of the Lord, they are spiritually "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." The condition of such is nauseous to Christ and can only end in the entire rejection of the Christian profession by Christ.

Nevertheless the grace of the Lord counsels them to turn to Himself to find in Him that which will meet their desperate need, that they may obtain the true riches, their shame be met and covered, and their eyes opened to see in Christ One that can not only meet their need, but One that is altogether lovely.

Then we learn that in the midst of these last dark days there will be true souls that the Lord loves, manifested by the very rebukes and chastening that love may see is needed to recall them to Himself. The Lord is found at the door of such, patiently knocking, as He seeks to find a place in their affections. To open the door to Him surely means that we give Him a place in our hearts, and thus get back to first love. To such the Lord says, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." He will enter into all our exercises and trials, and He will lead us into His heavenly things.

Are we not then to learn that, in the closing days of the Christian period, the path will grow exceedingly individual, but that it is possible for the individual to get back to first love, and thus enjoy the highest spiritual blessing of secret communion with the Lord, even though there is no return to public, or united testimony from the great profession?

The overcomer who makes no boast of spiritual wealth, who seeks no public recognition, and is content with the secret approval of the Lord will, in the day of glory, be displayed with Christ on His throne.

3 The Throne (Revelation 4)

Amidst the ruin of the church in responsibility and the failure of those who have sought to answer to the Lord's mind in a day of ruin, it is an immense comfort that there is a scene to which in faith we can turn where our affections may freely flow out and all our associations be pure and happy. Such a scene we have unrolled before us in Revelation 4 and 5.

Nothing could be darker or more dreary than the last phase of the professing church as depicted in the close of Revelation 3. There we find that which professes the Name of Christ on earth boasting in its riches, satisfied with its condition, and yet, not only indifferent to Christ, but actually rejecting Christ, so that Christ is found outside the door. As of old, the nation of Israel sealed its doom by rejecting their Messiah, and their house was left to them desolate; so to-day, Christendom is sealing its doom by rejecting Christ, and very soon will be spued out of His mouth. Such is the solemn picture of Revelation 3, the fulfilment of which we see developing all around us to-day.

In such a condition of things what a relief to the heart to pass in spirit into the scenes depicted in Revelation 4 and 5. In the opening of these chapters we have left earth with its door shut upon Christ to find a door opened into heaven to those who belong to Christ. It is no great hardship to have doors shut in our faces on earth if there is a door opened to us in heaven and an invitation to come hither and pass within the door. Passing within we leave behind the scene in which men make nothing of Christ to find ourselves in a scene where Christ is all in all.

To understand the Book of Revelation we must remember the threefold division given by the Lord to John as recorded in Revelation 1:19, where the Apostle is told to "Write therefore what thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to be after these" (N. Tr.). In the vision of Christ we have the first division — the things which John had seen. In the seven churches, presenting the whole church period, we have the second division — "The things that are." From Revelation 4, and onward, we have the third division — "The things that are about to be after these things" — after the history of the church on earth is closed.

(V. 1) The first verse of this fresh section opens with the expression "after these things," and again at the close of the verse we read of "the things which must take place after these things" (N. Tr.). Clearly, then, these words refer to the third division and bring us to the strictly prophetic part of the book.

It will help us to understand these prophecies if we keep before us the main subdivisions of this third portion of the Revelation. They appear to be as follows:

Firstly, Revelation 4 and 5, which are introductory, giving us a vision of things in heaven in order that we may learn the attitude of God towards events about to take place on earth, and telling us also the place of the saints of this age, and former ages, during these events.

Secondly, from Revelation 6 — 11:18, we have a series of events, occurring in succession, covering the whole period between the rapture of the church and the appearing of Christ to establish His kingdom.

Thirdly, from Revelation 11:19 — 19:10, we are instructed as to important details in relation to leaders and events during this period.

Fourthly, from Revelation 19:11 — 21:8, the order of events is resumed from Revelation 11:18, unfolding to us the future from the appearing of Christ, through millennial days on into the eternal state.

Fifthly, in Revelation 21:9 — 22:5, we are again taken back to learn further details concerning the heavenly saints in relation to earth during the millennial age.

Returning to the consideration of the first subdivision, we notice that the great theme of Revelation 4 is the Throne of God, while Revelation 5 is occupied with the Book in which all these events are chronicled. We are thus to learn that behind all that takes place on earth there is the over-ruling throne of God, and that every event is according to the settled counsels of God.

When the corrupt professing church has shut the door to Christ on earth it will be found that there is an open door in heaven through which the true church, like John, can pass to be with Christ in heaven. The One who calls John from earth to heaven is identified with the One who first spoke to him of the seven churches. This we know is the Lord Himself. So will it be the Lord's own voice that will call us to meet Him in the air.

The standpoint from which we view things will make a great difference as to the way in which we view them. We are invited, even as John, to pass in spirit into heavenly scenes and view all that is yet to take place on earth, from heaven's point of view. We are partakers of the heavenly calling, and as heavenly men we are to view these coming events. If the heavenly calling of the church is not known, and the heavenly position not accepted, we shall fail in a right interpretation of these coming events by being occupied with, and distracted by, current events in the world around.

(Vv. 2, 3) The immediate result of the call was that John "was in the spirit." Like Paul, when caught up to the third heaven, he was not conscious of the body. He was wholly absorbed by the great sights and themes of heaven. He was there as a witness to bear testimony to the church of all that was disclosed to him. Paul, when caught up to Paradise, "heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter." John, on the contrary, is told to "write the things" which he saw, and "seal not the sayings of the prophecy" (Rev. 1:19, Rev. 22:10). The difference would seem to be that Paul sees the things that belong to the inner circle of the Father's house, whereas John, while he truly conducts us into heavenly scenes, and tells us of heavenly things, yet it is of events in relation to earth. It is our happy privilege to profit by what John has written of the things he saw and heard. Thus in spirit we can pass into this heavenly scene, breathe its pure air, and feast our souls upon the things that speak of Christ. In all this great scene there is nothing to minister to the flesh or divert from Christ.

The first thing we see is a throne; moreover the throne is "set in heaven." The throne is the emblem of rule and authority; the guarantee for order and blessing and security throughout the universe. The fall was in reality a challenge to the throne; sin is rebellion against the throne; infidelity is a denial of the existence of the throne; pride aspires to the throne, and the devil defies the throne. How blessed, then, after six thousand years of rebellion against the throne, to pass into heaven and find the throne "set in heaven," unshaken, unmoved, and immovable; so that we may truly say that in this passage the great theme is the glory of the throne of God.

Even now the heavens do rule, though in a hidden way. Our great High Priest "has sat down on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens," and from that throne He ever lives to make intercession for the saints as they pass through this world (Heb. 7:25; Heb. 8:1). For the believer the throne is a throne of grace. From the throne that John sees, judgment is about to proceed. To-day evil abounds, lawlessness prevails, and increasingly the world is marked by violence and corruption, and God suffers long with the evil to give men space for repentance, and to make known His grace. Nevertheless, faith knows that, behind all, the throne of God remains unmoved in heaven. The consciousness that God is behind all, and that His throne remains with all its grace available for the saints, with all its mighty power untouched by the evil of men, will keep the soul in the calm of heaven while walking amidst the unrest of earth.

Moreover, "One sat on the throne." This glorious Person is not described, but precious stones are used as symbols to set forth His glory. We must remember that God is seen in connection with the throne. It is not the heart of the Father revealed by the Son who dwelt in the Father's bosom that is before us, but the glory of God set forth in Christ on a throne in connection with the government of the universe. The precious stones are symbols setting forth the radiance of divine glory in government. It is seen in heaven though not yet manifest on earth. On earth we see the misgovernment of man and the longsuffering of God. Had the radiancy of the throne manifested itself upon a sinful world it would have involved judgment for all. The vision carries us beyond the day of grace to a time when the church will have been caught up to heaven, to be followed by the radiancy of the throne shining forth in judgment upon the earth.

Further, John sees "a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald." From Genesis 9 we know that the rainbow speaks of the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature upon the earth. It speaks of blessing for earth secured by divine promise, but of blessing after judgment. The rainbow comes after the storm, even as God's promise of blessing follows when the judgment of the flood is past. The rainbow encircling the throne is the sure sign that beyond the judgment of the nations will be blessing for the earth.

(V. 4) Round about the throne John sees four and twenty thrones; and upon the thrones "four and twenty elders." That the elders do not represent angelic beings is clear from the eleventh verse of the following chapter, where we find the angels described as a distinct company standing round the elders. The number twenty-four would seem to be an allusion to the twenty-four courses of the priesthood instituted by David for the "princes" or "governors of the sanctuary." In David's day they were invested with a royal and priestly character and represented the whole priesthood (1 Chron. 24:5). The saints of this day have the character of "a royal priesthood" to shew forth the praises of God (1 Peter 2:9). Thus the elders would appear to symbolise the Old Testament saints as well as the assembly, in their completeness, associated with Christ in glory. Christ is seen upon His throne about to reign, and the saints are seen with Him in His reign — for He is enthroned and they too are enthroned. They are spoken of as "elders," signifying spiritual maturity. No longer do they "know in part;" they are intelligent in the mind of heaven. They are not seen as departed spirits, but with bodies of glory clothed in white raiment, speaking of their priestly character (Ex. 28:39-43). On their heads are "crowns of gold" speaking of their royal character. They have finished their earthly pilgrimage in which they suffered for Christ; now they are crowned to reign with Christ.

We have only to trace the allusions to the elders through the course of the Revelation to see how truly representative they are of the saints in glory:

Firstly, the elders are found in heaven associated with the throne before the judgments commence. They are not on earth; they do not pass through the judgments, nor are they, like the white-robed throng of saints described in Revelation 7, taken out of the great tribulation, but they are found in heaven before the judgments commence.

Secondly, they are a redeemed company as we learn from the following chapter (Rev. 8:8-10).

Thirdly, they are a worshipping company as we learn from Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 11:16, and Revelation 19:4.

Fourthly, they are an intelligent company of saints, knowing the mind of heaven (Rev. 5:5 and Rev. 7:13-17).

(V. 5) The character of the throne is clearly indicated by the solemn statement that "out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices." Lightnings and thunderings are the accompaniments of judgment, not the symbols of mercy and grace. To-day mercy flows from a throne of grace; in the millennial day a river of water, carrying blessing to the earth, will flow from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the solemn interval between the termination of the day of grace and the commencement of the Kingdom glory, the throne will be executing judgment upon the nations fitly symbolised by lightnings and thunderings.

Further, the Apostle sees "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Here, surely, we have a symbolic presentation of the Spirit of God in His fulness, but presented in connection with the fire of judgment, reminding us that, as with Israel so with the world, God is going to purge away all filth "By the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning" (Isa. 4:4). Those who to-day refuse the One who speaks in grace from heaven, will find in the day to come that "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).

(V. 6) Before the throne is "a sea of glass like to crystal." Before the sanctuary, in Solomon's day, there was a sea of water for the use of the priests (1 Kings 7:23-26). Here the sea has become glass like to crystal, a symbol of the fixed and absolute purity of the throne. In heaven nothing that defiles can enter.

(Vv. 6-8) Lastly, the Apostle sees in the midst of the throne and round about the throne "four living creatures." They would appear to be symbols of the executors of the government of God. They are four in number, probably indicating the completeness of God's government flowing out to every quarter of the globe. "Full of eyes" would symbolise the fulness of discernment in God's government from which nothing is hid. The lion, the calf, the face as a man, and the flying eagle, may signify that the government of God will be characterised by strength, firmness, intelligence, and rapidity of administration. Unceasingly they say, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was and is, and is to come." They testify that the government of God is holy, resistless in power, and unchangeable in character. The executors of the government of God will become the occasion of glory and thanksgiving to Him that sits upon the throne for ever and ever.

(Vv. 9, 10) Moreover the government of God will call forth the worship of the saints, who use the crowns that Christ has given them to own their perfect submission to Him. They cast their crowns before the throne and own the Lord is worthy to receive glory and honour and power, for He is the Creator of all, and for His pleasure all things are and were created. Sin has marred the fair creation, so that now the whole creation groans and travails in pain; but the saints in heaven, having the mind of the Lord, can discern that all the evil will be dealt with in judgment, so that once again God can take pleasure in His creation, even as of old, when the creation work was finished, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Thus, as the prelude to the coming judgments, we are carried into heaven to see the throne of judgment in heaven unshaken by the wickedness of men; to see the glory of the One who sits upon the throne; to learn in the rainbow that all the promises of God for the blessing of the earth will follow the judgments of the throne, to learn that the saints of the previous ages, and the present period, will be safe in heaven before the judgments fall; to learn that the judgments of the throne will be carried out in the fulness of the Spirit according to the perfection of God's government, and that as a result the Lord will be worshipped and praised as the Creator; and the whole creation, cleared of all evil, will once again be for His pleasure. Let us remember that these things are written that even now we may enter into them in faith, and thus be kept in perfect calm while yet in a world of turmoil.

4 The Book (Revelation 5)

In Revelation 4 and 5 we are carried in spirit into heaven itself, there to have unveiled before us events that will take place when the church has been rapt from earth to heaven. It is true that the rapture, though assumed, is not directly revealed in the Revelation, for the aim of the prophecy is not to declare the secrets of the church, already revealed in other Scriptures, but to set forth the judgments which prepare the way for the setting up of the kingdom of Christ.

(V. 1) The Book. In Revelation 4 all centres round the throne and the maintenance of its glory and holiness. In Revelation 5 the great theme is the Book that sets forth God's counsels for the blessing of the world, under the reign of Christ, after all evil has been dealt with in judgment. The glory of the throne must be maintained before the blessings of the book can be fulfilled.

"A book written" would indicate that God's will is unalterably settled. Men, from lack of courage, or from motives of policy are often chary of stating their plans in writing. But, to speak after the manner of men, God has committed Himself to writing. Then the book is filled, for it is written within and on the back, there is no room, as there is no need, for any addition to what God has written. When at last, in the future, all is fulfilled it will be found that every judgment foretold has been carried out, every blessing reached, and that there is nothing to take from nor add to the book.

(Vv. 2, 3) The Angel's Appeal. In the course of the vision the time has at last come to open the book, and the question is raised by a strong angel with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" To enter into the significance of the angel's proclamation, two things must be kept clearly in mind. Firstly, the character of the book. We must not limit the book to setting forth the judgments of God. It does indeed present these judgments in all their solemnity, and the main portion of the book is occupied with the description of the judgments that will fall upon Christendom, Israel, and the nations. But the world being cleared of all evil by judgment, the book goes on to present the vast system of blessing that God has purposed to establish on the earth for the glory of Christ and the blessing of man.

Secondly, we must bear in mind the true meaning of the opening of the book. Directly the seals are broken events begin to happen. Thus the great significance of the angel's question is, not who can give the interpretation of what is written — a comparatively simple matter — but who can bring to pass the events foretold?

If we seize the immensity of these two truths we shall understand the force of the angel's appeal to the whole universe. For the questions involved are, on the one hand, who can deal with the vast system of evil that has been built up by man's sin during six thousand years of rebellion, in a way that will meet the righteous demands of the throne? On the other hand, who can bring in that vast system of blessing that the goodness of God has purposed for the world to come and for the new heaven and the new earth?

The whole universe is challenged — is there anyone in heaven, on earth, or under the earth that can deal with the evil and bring in the blessing? The result of the challenge is that no one "was able to open the book," and no one "was found worthy to open the book." The two requirements in order to open the book are ability and worthiness.

For thousands of years men have been endeavouring to redress the evils of the world and introduce a time of universal peace and blessing. To use the symbolic language of Revelation 5, men have been endeavouring to open the book. They have tried by codes of laws, by courts of justice, by prisons and reformatories to repress evil: they have sought by every form of government — monarchial and republican, dictatorial and democratic — to bring in a time of peace and plenty. Every class has been tested, kings and nobles, plebeians and socialists; but amongst them all no one has been found with either ability or worthiness. Yet men still proceed by desperate efforts, by leagues, conferences, and pacts, to redress the wrongs of the world, and to bring about a time of universal peace and blessing; every effort only proving that they have never yet heard the voice of the strong angel. Those who have heard that voice know full well that it loudly proclaims that all the efforts of men are foredoomed to failure, inasmuch as they are attempts to put the world right without God and Christ. Men consider only the rights of man, they ignore the rights of God and the requirements of His throne.

(Vv. 4, 5) John weeps. John wept much because no man was found worthy to open the book,* and to break its seals. Thinking only of man's inability and unworthiness, we too might weep at the pitiful sight of a world directing its energies, its wisdom, its money, its resources, its youth, and its time to a perfectly hopeless task. But however much we may weep on earth, weeping will not do for heaven. John is the only man that ever wept in heaven, and if he "wept much" he was not allowed to weep long, for immediately one of the elders said to him, "Weep not." Intelligent in the mind of heaven, elders do not weep, for while they realise the hopelessness of all men's foredoomed efforts, they are in the secret of God. They know, that if the task is too great for man, there is One who is both able and worthy to open the book.
  {*The words "and read the book" should be omitted. See the New Translation.}

The Lion and the Lamb. Possessed of divinely given intelligence, the elders are able to witness to the One who can open the book. They say to John, "Behold the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." The lion is the symbol of strength as we read, "A lion which is strongest among beasts" (Prov. 30:30). His power then is irresistible, so the prophet Micah can say of the lion he "both treads down, and tears in pieces, and none can deliver" (Micah 5:8). The lion of the tribe of Judah tells us of this mighty power being exercised in the cause of God's ancient people, according to the prophecy of Jacob, which foretells that Judah will prevail over his enemies — "Thy hand shall be in the neck of shine enemies." In order that Judah may prevail he has the strength of "a young lion." But the real source of Judah's strength is that out of that tribe the One would come to whom the people would gather (Gen. 49:8-10). Christ is the true Lion of Judah.

Christ is also the Root of David. In David we see the King chosen of God to be victorious over all his enemies. Nevertheless Christ is the true King, the One who will put all enemies under His feet. He is first in the mind of God and hence the Root from whence David sprang. Thus Christ in His irresistible power as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and as a Divine Person — the Root of David — is the One who alone is able to open the book.

(V. 6) Then John turns to see the Lion and, behold, he sees a Lamb. Having heard of the Lion, he might naturally expect to see in Christ a vision of mighty power, but instead, he sees a Lamb, the emblem of weakness, and, too, as it had been slain. The One that prevails as the Lion, is the One who first suffered as the Lamb. His power to overcome in opening the book is that He has overcome by going into death. As the Lamb slain He overcame sin, and death, and the devil. Having overcome as the suffering Lamb He has acquired the power to overcome every enemy as the mighty Lion. With Him are found the seven horns and the seven eyes. The seven horns speak of complete and irresistible power — omnipotence; the seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, of complete and all searching omniscience in the power of the Spirit. Going forth into all the earth speaks of His omnipresence.

(V. 7) The book taken. As the Lion, Christ is able; as the Lamb, He is worthy to open the book. Hence He can take the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. Taking the book signifies that the supreme moment for which angels and saints had waited has at length come. The time of the patience of Jesus is past; the time for action has come.

(V. 8) Heaven realises the mighty import of the taking of the book. It is seen that the hour of this world's doom has struck, and the world to come is not far off. So we read, "When he had taken the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints." The harps speak of the praises of the saints and the bowls of their prayers. The time has come when all the praise that has gone up from all the saints throughout the ages will be publicly justified, and all their prayers will have a glorious answer. Many of these saints went out of the world as martyrs praising a God who did not intervene to deliver them from their enemies; and their prayers, at times, appeared to be unanswered and even unheard. At last their praise will be justified and their prayers answered.

(Vv. 9, 10) The New Song. The praying time is over, the singing time is come. The song they sing is new. Hitherto the ransomed of the Lord had been on the way to glory singing songs of redemption; but those songs looked on to victory and the reign of glory. They were songs of hope. With the taking of the book their hopes will all be fulfilled, and the songs of hope will be changed to songs of victory. Moreover, their songs celebrate the worthiness of the Redeemer, and the greatness of His redemption, rather than the blessings of the redeemed. Thus, in the better translation, their reference to redemption is impersonal. The song is general as to the people who are redeemed, but special as to the One who has redeemed them. All heaven is occupied with the Lamb — "THOU art worthy," "THOU wast slain," "THOU hast redeemed," and "THOU hast made."

(Vv. 11, 12) The Angelic Host. The new song sung by the saints awakens the praise of the whole angelic host. The elders strike the note, the angels prolong the strain. They ascribe worthiness to the Lamb. He is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Men have paid homage to one another, and dishonoured the Lamb. They have enthroned man, and crucified the Lamb. The day is coming when it will be seen that the Lamb alone is worthy to receive all power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing. The history of the world witnesses that, in the hands of man, all these things have been used to exalt himself and shut out God. The Lamb alone is worthy to receive all these things, for He alone will use them for the glory of God.

(V. 13) The creation. Then, as it has been said, "The vast harmony overflows the bounds of heaven," and the glorious end is anticipated when earth will join with heaven to praise Him that sits upon the throne and the Lamb. Everything that has breath will unite in praising God and the Lamb.

(V. 14) The four living creatures, the representatives of those by whom the government of God is accomplished, see the blessed end of their service and add their "Amen." The saints of all the ages see the mighty triumph of God over all evil, and the fulfilment of all His counsels, in anticipation, and fall down and worship.

5 The Seals (Revelation 6)

With this chapter we pass from heaven to learn the commencement of the course of events that will take place on earth from the time of the rapture of the church until the appearing of Christ, and then through millennial days on to the eternal state.

Looking back over the centuries, since the introduction of Christianity, we see throughout the ages the unrepentant attitude of the Jews to Christ; the growing corruption of Christendom, and the increasing breakdown of government in the hands of the Gentiles. Also we see that, in the midst of the growing violence and corruption, God has had His true people who through the ages have had, at times, to face bitter persecution and suffering.

Furthermore, it is clear that throughout this day of grace, while God is over all and providentially deals in judgment with evil, on the one hand, and cares for His creatures and especially the household of faith, on the other hand, yet He has not publicly intervened in judgment on the wicked or for the deliverance of His suffering people. This, however, does not mean that God has been indifferent to evil, to the insults heaped upon Christ, or to the sufferings of His people, for, as we look on to the future, as revealed in the Revelation, we are permitted to see that the time is coming when God will directly intervene in judgment upon the wicked, whereby the holiness of God will be vindicated, the glory of Christ maintained, and the blessing of His people secured.

Men vainly dream of a new order, and are busy with their plans to end war and establish a world marked by peace and safety. But so far from the world improving by the efforts of men, we learn from these prophecies that the evils of the world will increase until all mere religious profession heads up in apostasy under Antichrist, and the government of the world become utterly corrupt under the rule of the beast energised by Satan.

In seeking to profit by this wonderful unfolding of the future it is of importance to recognise in reading Scripture that God does not record historical incidents, or unfold future events, in order to gratify mere idle curiosity. All that is recorded, whether in history or prophecy, has a moral end in view and is for our spiritual blessing, and is thus to have a practical effect upon our walk and ways. If God foretells the progress of evil and the judgments about to fall on men it should surely have the effect of keeping the believer in holy separation from a judgment-doomed world. If we are told of the way God will support and sustain His witnesses in the midst of these coming judgments, it is to give us greater confidence in God in the presence of any trials we may have to meet in seeking to be true to the Name of Christ. If He unfolds before us the blessedness of the heavenly city and the eternal state, is it not to lift our souls above the light afflictions of things seen and temporal, by engaging our affections with the things not seen and eternal?

From Revelation 4 — Revelation 11:18 we have unfolded to us the events that will take place on earth during the period between the coming of Christ for His saints, and His appearing with His saints. These events are presented in the opening of the book with the seven seals. In seeking to learn the meaning of the opening of these seals, let us remember that symbols are used to express great truths, or represent persons and events. We have to seek the meaning of the symbols used and beware of using them in a literal sense. If John sees a horse and a rider, this does not mean that a literal horse and rider will come forth in the future but that which they represent will come to pass.

In reference to these preliminary judgments it will be noticed that the opening of the first four seals is directly connected with the four living creatures, of whom there is no mention in the last three seals. As we have seen the living creatures would seem to set forth symbolically the exercise of God's governmental dealings in providential ways. This indicates that however terrible the judgments under the first four seals there will be nothing that indicates a directly miraculous intervention of God. Thus the judgments under the first four seals will not be unlike events that have happened many times in the history of the world, though, indeed, they may surpass in intensity anything that has yet taken place.

(Vv. 1, 2) The judgments on earth that follow the opening of the seals will be the direct outcome of the intervention of heaven. It was when the Lamb in heaven opened one of the seals that John immediately heard the noise of thunder, and one of the four living creatures saying, "Come." In response to this cry "a white horse" comes forth and judgment commences on earth. Men may think they are carrying out their own will, but God is behind all that men are doing and no one is behind God.

It is generally recognised that in the expression "Come and see" in the opening of the first four seals, the words "and see" are not in the original text. "Come and see" would imply a call to John, but it is hardly probable that a call to the Apostle would be accompanied with thunder. The word "Come" would be a call to the horses and riders, and with this, thunder would be quite consistent.

It would appear from other scriptures that the horse is used to represent an imperial power used by the providence of God to carry out His purposes whether in judgment or blessing. In Zechariah 1:10 the prophet is definitely told concerning the horses he saw in his vision that "These are they whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro through the earth." When the Lord comes forth to reign the symbol of a white horse is used (Rev. 19:11). So it would seem whether it be in connection with the Lord, or others, the white horse is a symbol of the victorious progress of the rider. Here the rider has a bow, indicating, as it has been suggested, that, in contrast to a sword, he can make his power felt at a distance without personal combat and bloodshed. Moreover, he is allowed to carry all before him, for "he went forth conquering and to conquer." The fact that "a crown was given to him" may indicate that he will not be an hereditary monarch but one like Napoleon, and other dictators, who rises from the masses.

This first seal would indicate that after the church period the first judgment that will overtake the world will be the uprising of some leader from the masses to whom a kingly position will be given, who will go forth on a campaign of aggression, and for a time march from victory to victory over surrounding nations with irresistible power.

(Vv. 3, 4) With the opening of the second seal, John sees that a red horse comes forth and peace is taken from the earth. This surely indicates that the outcome of the victorious career of the rider on the first horse will be a general uprising of the nations leading to internecine warfare and bloodshed with the result that peace is taken from the earth.

(Vv. 5, 6) When the third seal is opened John sees a black horse with a rider holding a pair of balances. This clearly indicates that universal warfare will be followed by famine in which the masses will be deprived of the necessities of life even if the rich are still able to obtain their luxuries.

(Vv. 7, 8) On the opening of the fourth seal a pale horse comes forth with the name of death stamped upon the rider. This surely tells us that pestilence will follow famine. Thus in a fourth part of the earth men will die by the sword, by famine, by pestilence, and by ravenous beasts of the earth.

It has been generally recognised that these first four judgments correspond to those which the Lord speaks of as "the beginning of sorrows." When telling His disciples of the future judgments coming upon the prophetic earth, He speaks first of "wars and rumours of wars," then of internecine warfare — "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;" thirdly, the Lord foretells famines, and finally pestilence (Matt. 24:6-8).

(Vv. 9, 11) While there is no specific judgment connected with the opening of the fifth seal, it prepares the way for a more terrible series of judgments under the remaining seals — judgments which no longer have simply a providential character but in which men are compelled to recognise the hand of God.

Two facts are made manifest by the opening of this seal. Firstly, we learn that during the period of the first four seals God will have His witnesses on earth who will bear testimony to the word of God and in consequence suffer martyrdom at the hands of "them that dwell on the earth." This is a particular class who find their portion in this earth and would exclude all recognition of God and His Christ, and therefore are in deadly enmity to the witnesses to Christ. They are referred to again and again in the course of the Revelation (see Rev. 3:10; Rev. 11:10, Rev. 13:8, 12, 14, Rev. 14:6, Rev. 17:8).

Secondly, we learn that the judgments that follow will be an answer to the cry of this martyred remnant to God to avenge their blood. To-day the testimony of the church is heavenly, but, in the time of these judgments, the testimony of God's witnesses will be wholly concerned with the earth, and God's claims to the creation as the inheritance of Christ. Obviously such a witness will bring them into direct conflict with those "that dwell on the earth." Opposed and suffering martyrdom they will rightly cry to God to avenge their blood, for the blessings of the coming Kingdom that they proclaim can only be reached through the judgment of the world. It is no part of the church's testimony to call for judgment as our blessings belong to heaven and are reached by the coming of Christ.

Their cry, "How long," indicates that they know there is a limit to the persecution of God's people. "Under the altar" would seem to suggest as a symbol that these saints will be offered as an acceptable sacrifice to God as the first group of martyred saints after the church has gone. There are others to follow before the time of judgment is over, so they are told to wait yet for a season until the martyrdom of their brethren should be fulfilled. The white robes are the witness of their practical righteousness and thus of God's approval. They witnessed for God as the Holy and the True, and men opposed and martyred them, but God approved them and will avenge their blood.

(Vv. 12-17) With the opening of the sixth seal, the judgments will take a more terrible form, so that all from the highest to the lowest will be stricken with terror as they are compelled to see a destructive and overwhelming revolution wholly beyond anything experienced by men in the past history of the world. Earthquakes would indicate as a symbol the breaking up of all social, religious, and political order. The statements as to the sun, moon, and stars would symbolise the complete overthrow of all who exercise government from the highest to the lowest. The mountains and islands being removed out of their places set forth the break up of empires. So terrible will these convulsions in the world appear to men that they will be stricken in conscience as they see the hand of God at work, and so fear that the great day of His wrath is come. But, having rejected the testimony of God's witnesses they will say, "Who shall be able to stand?"

6 The Saved Remnant (Revelation 7)

We have already seen that during the period of these judgments God will have witnesses who will reach their eternal blessing through martyrdom. Now we learn that before the severer judgments that will follow the opening of the seventh seal God will have a great host of witnesses who will be preserved through "the great tribulation" (verse 14).

(Vv. 1-8) John sees "four angels standing on the four corners of the earth "ready to execute judgments that will fall on every quarter of the world. But before these judgments commence he sees another angel ascending from the east, and thus the harbinger of a new day, who stays the judgments until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. These servants represented by a symbolic number of "One hundred and forty-four thousand" are drawn from the twelve tribes of Israel. This surely indicates that during this time of tribulation God will raise up His servants from amongst His ancient people Israel to be a public witness to Himself in every part of the world to which they may have been scattered.

(Vv. 9-10) Further, John sees "a great multitude, which no man could number," gathered from the Gentile nations. They are described as standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and the palms in their hands. Standing before the throne would not necessarily imply that they are in heaven, but that they are accepted as in the favour of God. Do not all the symbols suggest that a great host of believers will be preserved through these terrible judgments for the blessings of Christ's earthly kingdom? When the wicked will fall before the judgments of God's throne and the Lamb that acts in judgment, there will be those who will stand in safety before the throne and the Lamb. When the nations are being judged for their wickedness there will be those whom God will accept as righteous, as witnessed by the "white robes." When the world is led into rebellion against God by the devil, the beast, and the Antichrist, there will be those who will be victorious over all the power of the enemy, as symbolised by the "palms in their hands." But if they are preserved through the judgments they take no credit to themselves, but ascribe all their blessing to God and the Lamb. In the very day when judgment is proceeding from "the throne" and "the Lamb" they can say, "Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne and to the Lamb."

(Vv. 11, 12) The grace that gathers this vast multitude for blessing, in the very day when judgments are falling upon the world, calls forth a burst of praise in heaven. The angels, the elders, and the four living creatures fall down and worship before the throne, and ascribe to God "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might."

(Vv. 13-17) In the first part of the chapter we have seen that in the time of these judgments God will have a saved remnant from Israel and the Gentiles. In the closing verses the question is raised, and answered by one of the elders in heaven, as to who this company may be and whence they come. It would seem that these verses apply to both classes, for in Isaiah 49:10 exactly similar language is used to describe the blessing of restored Israel. There we read, "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that has mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them."

It is explained to John that this blessed company has come out of "the great tribulation" about to come upon all the world under the judgments symbolised by the Seven Trumpets, as set forth in the following chapter. Of this solemn time we have already heard in the address to the assembly in Philadelphia, as "the hour of trial which is about to come upon the whole habitable world to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). Already we have learned in Revelation 6:9-11 that there will be during this time of judgment a martyred remnant, but there is nothing to indicate that this great company will suffer martyrdom. It is said that they "came out of the great tribulation," words that would indicate that they are preserved through the trials. They come under the cleansing of the blood of the Lamb, and for this reason they are accepted before God and have access to God, and are sheltered by God, for God "shall spread His tabernacle over them" (N. Tr.). If, however, they are preserved through the judgment this does not mean that they will not have to face trial and suffering, represented by hunger and thirst, and heat and tears. But in the end their sufferings will be for ever past, for "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." The Lamb "shall lead them to living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

Do we not learn from this chapter that, as in this day, there are those who receive the gospel of the grace of God and come into heavenly blessing, while those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ come under judgment (2 Thess. 1:8-9); so in the day to come there will be a vast host who have never heard the gospel of the grace of God, but will receive the everlasting gospel of the kingdom and pass on to the earthly blessing of the millennium, while those who reject this gospel will come under judgment?

7 The Trumpets (Revelation 8)

The opening of the seventh seal is followed by silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. There is something intensely solemn in the thought of all heaven being hushed into silence under the awe-inspiring sense of events about to take place on earth.

For long ages evil had been increasing, Christ had been dishonoured, God defied, and His people persecuted. In the presence of this ever-growing evil there had been no public intervention of God. But if God had remained silent, it was not that God was indifferent; for at last God was about to intervene, and the silence of the ages will be broken by the trumpets of God that announce His judgments.

The judgments under the first seals had been of a providential character. However severe, they were similar to visitations which had fallen upon men at different times, such as wars, famine, and pestilence. In the judgments that are prophetically announced at the opening of the seventh seal we see a more direct and manifest intervention of God. The sound of a trumpet would symbolise the fact that God is directly announcing that His judgments are about to fall upon man.

(V. 2) John sees seven angels standing before God, to whom seven trumpets are given. It would thus appear that the last seal embraces the whole period of the judgments under the seven trumpets and thus carries us up to the time under the seventh trumpet when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15-18).

(Vv. 3-6) Before these judgments commence we are permitted to see that God has heard the prayers of His people, and that in these judgments they will be answered. To-day, when God is acting in sovereign grace, those who have the mind of heaven pray for the salvation of sinners, and their prayers are answered by the blessing of souls. In the day to come when God is acting in judgment, those who have His mind will rightly use the imprecatory Psalms, for, in common with the earthly saints of Old Testament days, they will reach their blessing through the judgment of their enemies. In contrast to these believers, the heavenly saints of this day reach their final blessing through being called away from the scene of judgment through the coming of Christ.

The prayers of these saints are presented to God by the angel at the altar with the golden censer, who adds incense to the prayers. Does not this angel represent Christ, Himself, who, as the Great High Priest intercedes for His people? It is said that His incense is offered with "the prayers of all saints." May this not indicate that in these judgments we see an answer to the prayers of all the saints of Old Testament days, as well as those of the great tribulation?

The incense that goes up to God has an immediate answer in bringing judgment upon men, for the angel that offers the incense to God on behalf of the saints, casts fire upon the earth with the result that there is every sign of coming judgment, and the seven angels that had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

(V. 7) The judgment under the first angel is accompanied with hail and fire mingled with blood. "Hail" may symbolise violent and destructive judgment; "fire" the all-consuming character of the judgment; and "blood" the death that follows through the judgment.

This judgment falls upon the earth, probably used as a symbol to set forth an ordered and prosperous portion of the world in contrast to uncivilised nations set forth by the sea. The "third part" in this and the three following trumpet judgments would limit the judgment to a restricted area. From Revelation 12:4 this would seem to indicate the sphere of the revived Roman Empire. It may be the western part of the Roman Empire in contrast to the sixth trumpet, which is connected with the Euphrates or eastern portion, while the seventh trumpet tells us of a universal judgment (Rev. 11:15-18).

This judgment falls upon the trees and green grass. Often in Scripture trees are used as a symbol to set forth great men of the earth, while the green grass speaks of prosperity. It would thus seem that this first trumpet judgment falls upon Europe, or western part of the Roman Empire, dealing in judgment with the leaders and sweeping away all prosperity.

(Vv. 8, 9) In the judgment of the second trumpet John saw "as it were a great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea." In Scripture we know that a mountain is used to symbolise a great and long-established power. Thus, Babylon is spoken of as a "destroying mountain," and the LORD says "I will roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burning mountain" (Jer. 51:25). The sea, with its continued movement, is often used to set forth the nations in a state of unrest (see Rev. 17:15).

This trumpet would thus appear to foretell the overwhelming destruction of a great world power, that in its fall will bring ruin and death upon a third part of the nations as their channel of subsistence is destroyed through commerce being brought to a standstill by the destruction of the ships.

(Vv. 10, 11) The judgment that follows the sounding of the third trumpet is symbolised by the fall of a great star upon the third part of the rivers. Does not a great star set forth some prominent leader of thought to whom men have looked for guidance? The rivers may set forth the sources of intellectual thought by which men seek to guide their lives? The fall of a great burning star would seem to indicate that in the judgment of God some intellectual leader is allowed to put forth false teaching, such, for instance, as evolution, which poisons the minds of men, bringing bitterness and moral death, or separation from God, upon a third part of the earth.

(V. 12) The judgment of the fourth trumpet is set forth under the figure of a third part of the sun, and moon, and stars being smitten with darkness. The sun, moon, and stars are used in Scripture to set forth different grades of governmental authorities ordained of God. Do not these symbols suggest that a third part of the political powers will be smitten, leaving people in darkness and confusion in every walk of life?

(V. 13) The three last trumpet judgments are distinguished from the first four by the announcement of the angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to them that dwell upon the earth, for the remaining voices of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound."

It will be noticed that the first four trumpet judgments dealt more especially with the circumstances of life, symbolised by the trees, the rivers, the sun, moon, and stars. The last three trumpet judgments are more severe and terrible in their character, inasmuch as we shall see, they fall upon men, rather than their circumstances. They bring woe to that special class referred to as dwellers upon the earth — those who, like Cain, go out from the presence of the Lord and seek to build a world without God.

8 The Woes (Revelation 9)

(Vv. 1-11) We have already learned that, in the times of these judgments, God will seal as His own a great number from Israel, who will be preserved for the reign of Christ. We may surely conclude from the fact that the fifth trumpet judgment, or first woe, falls on "those men which have not the seal of God on their foreheads," that this judgment falls especially on the apostate, or unsealed portion of the nation of Israel.

This fearful judgment appears to be some Satanic delusion that darkens the minds of men. It is presented as being brought about under the symbol of a star fallen to the earth. May this not set forth some intellectual leader in a subordinate position who is permitted to delude men's minds with some Satanic teaching?

This evil teaching is set forth under the symbol of a swarm of locusts that, with irresistible power, sweep all before them leaving misery in their trail. The natural locusts would destroy the grass and every green thing, and strip the trees. But the evil influence set forth by these symbolic locusts will not affect the circumstances of life, or even the bodies of men, but poisons the minds of men even as a scorpion poisons the body. To such mental misery will men be brought that they will seek death but not find it. Death is probably used in the passage in a moral sense, as an expression of separation from God. The very people that were once called to be a witness to the true God will, through falling under this Satanic delusion, seek to find relief to their minds by attempting to throw off all knowledge of God.

Striking figures are used to set forth this terrible delusion. "Horses prepared to battle" would surely infer that it will come with irresistible power; the "crowns like gold" suggest that this delusion will appear to have supreme authority; "the faces of men" would symbolise that it will have a highly intellectual character; "the hair of women" may suggest that it will commend itself as having the appearance of meekness and subjection to others. But whatever its outward attraction to the minds of men, "the teeth of lions" would imply that it will lay hold of men with fanatic ferocity, while "the breastplates of iron" may indicate that it will harden the affections, and seize upon the minds of men with incredible swiftness as set forth by "the sound of their wings" likened to "the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle." This strong delusion will leave a trail of terrible misery symbolised by the "stings in their tails." This evil influence will affect men for a limited period for the power to hurt will only last for five months. The leader in this terrible delusion will be Satan, the angel of the bottomless pit.

It has been suggested that the star that falls from heaven sets forth the false prophet, or Antichrist, described in greater detail in Revelation 13:11-18. We know that he will be an apostate (Dan. 11:37) and will be energised by Satan, for he speaks as a dragon, to deceive those that dwell on the earth. May we not conclude that the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments set forth the strong delusion of which the Apostle Paul speaks in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12?

(Vv. 12-19) A voice from the golden altar before God calls forth the sixth angel, or second woe judgment. This again reminds us that all these judgments are directed from heaven, and that evil in its fulness is restrained until the moment for judgment is come.

This judgment is very similar to the last; but whereas the first woe fell upon the unsealed of Israel this second woe is said to fall upon "the third part of men," an expression which is used in Revelation 12:4 to set forth the sphere of the Roman Empire, which would embrace professing Christendom.

The mention of the Euphrates would indicate that this judgment comes from the East, for this river is the natural barrier between the East and the West. It would seem then that when the time of this judgment is come this barrier will be removed and some evil influence from the East will sweep over the sphere of professing Christendom. The symbol of a mighty army of horsemen would indicate some irresistible delusion of the devil. "Their power in their mouth" may indicate that this delusion will be presented with all the persuasive eloquence of speech. But behind the delusion is the power of Satan, symbolised by their tails being like to serpents. In result the third part of men are killed, setting forth, probably not physical death but that men are led into all the misery of apostasy, or moral death to God. Have we not had foreshadowings of such a delusion sweeping over Christendom from the East in the history of the invasion of Mahomet?

(Vv. 20, 21) Apparently there will be some that escape this terrible delusion, but even so they do not repent, for it is evident from the closing verse that as in the days before the flood the world will be given over to violence and corruption.

9 The Witnesses of God (Revelation 10-11:18)

With the tenth chapter we reach a pause in the prophecy of the seven trumpet judgments in order that there may be brought before us the ways of God in maintaining a witness for Christ in connection with the earth during the solemn period of the sixth trumpet, or second woe, judgment. This parenthetical portion closes with the statement in Revelation 11:14 that "the second woe is past, and behold the third woe comes quickly." This surely indicates that the events described in this portion take place during the second woe, and are immediately followed by the third woe, or seventh trumpet judgment. From the details given in this passage we shall see that the events recorded take place during the period of three and a half years that immediately precede the coming of Christ to claim His earthly kingdom.

(V. 1) The passage opens with a vision of a "mighty angel come down from heaven." From the description that follows we shall surely be right in concluding that in this mighty angel we have a presentation of Christ. He is clothed with a cloud that so often, in Scripture, betokens the Divine Presence. The rainbow that in Revelation 4:3 was seen round about the throne is now upon the head of this angel, and sets forth that this is the One through whom God's covenant of mercy with the earth will be carried out. His face like the sun reminds us that in this Person all the glory of God will be set forth and supreme authority displayed. His feet as pillars of fire would indicate that He is treading a path of holy judgment against sin.

(V. 2) In His hand He held "a little book open." From the verses that follow we may infer that the open book refers to the prophecies of the Old Testament, which have been plainly revealed, in contrast to the book with the seven seals that foretells things not disclosed in Old Testament days.

The angel set His right foot upon the sea, and His left foot on the earth. Symbolically, the sea is often used in Scripture to set forth the mass of nations in an uncivilised state, while the earth speaks of the ordered portion of the world that has had the light of God, whether in Judaism or Christendom, and therefore the portion of the world to which prophecy especially applies. We are thus led on to the time when Christ will publicly assert His rights over the whole world.

(Vv. 3, 4) The loud voice and the seven thunders tell us that the rights of Christ will be made good through judgments that none can evade, though John is not allowed to disclose the voices of the seven thunders.

(Vv. 5-7) Christ, represented by the strong angel, who already has asserted His claim to the whole world, now swears by Him that lives for ever and ever, and who has created all things, that the time is at hand when He will enter upon His earthly inheritance — there will be "no longer delay" (N. Tr.). The seventh trumpet will introduce the final judgments, end the mystery of God, and bring in the blessings of the kingdom according to the glad tidings delivered to His servants the prophets (N. Tr.). The mystery of God in this passage refers to the fact that for long ages God has not publicly intervened in the affairs of men. The wickedness of men has grown unchecked by any public display on the part of God. Men have been allowed to gratify their lusts, attain their ambitions, to increase in their rebellion against God and persecution of His people. During the ages God's people have been tortured on the rack, banished from their homes, and martyred at the stake, and God, it might seem, has not interfered. All this — which has been called the silence of God — is a great mystery. It is not, however, inexplicable, for a "mystery" in Scripture is not something which cannot be explained, but something which is only known to the initiated. During the time of the mystery of God, believers have had the open book of prophecy foretelling the time of blessing that will come when God publicly intervenes. Thus the lamp of prophecy has illumined the darkness of the ages and the believer has been initiated into the mind of God. When, however, the Lord Jesus publicly intervenes, taking possession of the kingdoms of this world, the mystery of God will be finished. The judgment of the wicked and the blessings of the kingdom, known to the believer, will be fulfilled and manifest to the world.

The closing incident of Revelation 10 is deeply significant and full of instruction. John is told to take the little open book and "eat it up," and that, so doing, he would find it bitter to his belly, but sweet as honey in his mouth. Does this not set forth the fact that the truth of all that God is to bring in — the unfolding of coming glories — is indeed sweet to our taste, but it involves the setting aside of the flesh, and the utter judgment of all that the flesh lusts after? We have to discover that as believers the flesh is still in us, and hence the truth, however sweet to the taste, involves bitter exercises as it discovers to us the true character of our own hearts. It is necessary not only that we should judge the world around us, but that we also should judge the flesh within us; for if we judge ourselves we shall not be judged. When we have judged the flesh the Lord can use us as witnesses to others, even as John, having passed through these exercises, is told, "Thou must prophesy again as to peoples, and nations, and tongues, and many kings." Isaiah, in his day, had to learn the bitterness of his own visions. In Revelation 6 he sees a vision of the whole earth filled with the glory of the LORD. Surely a sweet foretaste of blessing and glory to come: but immediately he says, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." This is the bitter exercise that the word produces as it discovers to him the character of his own heart. But when all is owned he at once finds it is met by a coal from off the altar. So when we discover and own what we are, we find that all has been met by the One that died for us. Having been cleansed by sacrifice Isaiah is the very one that the LORD can send with a message to others (Isa. 6:3-10).

(Revelation 11:1) Having been prepared for service, a reed is given to John, and he is told to "measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein." The mention of the temple and the holy city clearly shows that the events foretold in this portion of the Revelation have their centre in Jerusalem, and are in connection with the nation of Israel.

As a symbol the temple sets forth the dwelling place of God, and the altar the way of approach to God on the ground of sacrifice. Measuring would seem to set forth that the man of God is to take account of all that God has reserved for Himself as having His approval. Does not this action, and the figures used, tell us that during the time of these judgments God will have His people whom He delights to own as drawing near to Him in worship?

(V. 2) The court was not to be measured setting forth the fact that at this time the Gentiles will be allowed to tread under foot the holy city for three and a half years. It is clear, then, that during the closing period of the times of the Gentiles, while God reserves to Himself a godly remnant, the mass of the Jewish nation will be given over to the violence of the Gentiles, who will tread under foot their city. During this time the world will return to pagan savagery and corruption, and like the dogs and swine will trample under foot all that is "holy," and, as the following verses show, will rend the people of God (Matt. 7:6). So Peter warns us that in the last days men will act like the dog that returns to its vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire (2 Peter 2:22).

The mention of the forty-two months, or three and a half years, at once connects the Revelation made to John with the prophecies of Daniel. In Daniel 9:24-27, we read of a period of seventy weeks, at the end of which everlasting righteousness under the reign of Christ will be established. We are then told that these weeks would commence with the command to rebuild Jerusalem, which we know was in the reign of Cyrus. Further we learn that after seven weeks and sixty-two weeks the Messiah would be cut off. It is evident then that each day of these weeks represents one year and that the first sixty-nine weeks of years were completed at the crucifixion of Christ. This leaves one week of seven years yet to be fulfilled. At the commencement of this last seven years Daniel tells us that the leader of the Roman Empire will enter into a covenant with the Jews for seven years, and in the midst of the seven years will cause the Jewish sacrifice to cease. In Daniel 7:25 we further learn that he will wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change times and laws during this period of "a time and times and the dividing of time," in other words, for three and a half years.

(Vv. 3, 4) It is this last week of seven years that is brought before us in the Revelation, and more especially the last half of this week. Thus, in this passage, we learn that during this period not only the opposition of the Gentiles against God's ancient people will come to a head, but during this same time God will raise up two outstanding witnesses in accord with the principle of Scripture that "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." Being clothed in sackcloth may show that their message is one that calls aloud for repentance. In this case the period of three and a half years is stated in days, possibly to emphasise the fact that the witness will be daily.

The figures used to set forth the character of these witnesses are similar to those used in the fourth chapter of the prophet Zechariah. From this passage it becomes clear that the olive tree indicates that these witnesses are anointed by the Holy Spirit to "stand before the Lord of the whole earth" (compare Zech. 4:14 with Rev. 11:4). As candlesticks they become witnesses before men. Their testimony is to the Lord who has claimed the sea and the earth and is about to establish His kingdom. In the day when those that dwell on the earth are seeking to claim the world for themselves, God will have His witnesses that testify that He is "the Lord of the earth."

(Vv. 5, 6) This witness will call forth intense opposition from the enemy which will be met by acts of Divine power. The two witnesses will be empowered to shut the heavens that it rain not during the days of their prophecy, even as Elijah acted in his day (1 Kings 17:1); and as Moses smote Egypt with plagues, so again will these witnesses to the Lord of the earth "smite the earth with all plagues."

To-day God's people witness to the God of heaven in His sovereign grace saving sinners for heaven, through faith in Christ. Therefore, no outward signs of judgment accompany their witness. In the coming days of these witnesses, God will be giving testimony to the coming reign of Christ on earth, to be introduced by judgments that will clear the inheritance of evil. In consistency with this testimony solemn signs of coming judgment are given.

(Vv. 7, 8) At the end of the three and a half years, when the testimony of the two witnesses is finished, the beast, which we learn a little later is the head of the revived Roman Empire, will be allowed to overcome and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city, the moral condition of which in these last days will be so utterly degraded that it is likened to Sodom with its gross immorality, and Egypt with its idolatry and worldliness. Then we are reminded that this appalling condition is the outcome of the greatest of all sins, for this great city is "where also their Lord was crucified."

In accord with the revelation to John, the Lord when on earth warned His disciples that the condition of the world immediately preceding His appearing will be one of violence and corruption as in the days before the flood, and of gross filthiness, as in the day of Lot when judgment from heaven fell upon Sodom. As we see the increasing violence, corruption, lust, and godlessness that mark the lands that have so long had the light of Christianity do we not discern how all is preparing for the terrible crisis of evil described in these verses?

(V. 9) If the Gentiles joined with the Jews in crucifying the Lord, we cannot be surprised to learn that all the world will unite in expressing their hatred and contempt of the witnesses to the Lord, by leaving their dead bodies unburied.

(V. 10) Further, we are told that there will be a distinct class, described as those "that dwell upon the earth," who not only leave their bodies exposed to insult but will "rejoice over them," "make merry," and "send gifts to one another." These earth dwellers, whose one aim, like the rich man of Luke 12, is to eat, drink, and be merry without any thought of God or the future, find the testimony of these two witnesses a perfect torment to them, and rejoice when, as they judge, they are overcome and for ever silenced.

(Vv. 11, 12) However, the rejoicing of the world will be short-lived, for at the end of three and a half days God will intervene, and in the sight of the people will raise up His witnesses, and they will hear a great voice from heaven that will call them to "Come up hither."

(V. 13) God's witnesses having been rejected there is nothing left for man but judgment. Witness is borne to this solemn fact by a great earthquake in which seven thousand men are slain. For the moment men are terrified and will give glory "to the God of heaven." The testimony of the two witnesses was to "the Lord of the earth," thus asserting the title of Christ to the earth. Alas! though in a moment of terror men may admit there is a God in heaven, they will not submit to the Lord of the earth. Nevertheless, God has determined "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth" (Phil. 2:10).

We thus learn from this deeply solemn passage that the closing events of this age will have their centre in Jerusalem and take place during a period of three and a half years. Further, we are told, that during the great tribulation of these last days there will be a God-fearing remnant, and amongst them two outstanding witnesses, whose testimony will be accompanied by mighty acts of power that will bring plagues upon men. Opposed to the people of God, and in contrast to them, there will be a great company of earth dwellers led by two pre-eminently wicked men — the head of the Roman Empire and the Antichrist (Rev. 13), whose opposition will be accompanied by "the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9).

(Vv. 14-17) The solemn events brought before us in Revelation 10 - 11:13 ends the period of the second woe and prepares the way for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, brought before us in the third woe by the sounding of the trumpet of the seventh angel.

With the sounding of the seventh trumpet we are carried from earth to heaven to hear great voices in heaven announcing the glad tidings that "The kingdom of the world of our Lord and of His Christ is come, and He shall reign to the ages of ages." The great day will at last come when the government of this world will pass into the hands of the Lord Jesus. All heaven rejoices at the announcement, and the saints, represented by the Twenty-four elders, worship with thanksgiving to God.

(V. 18) How solemn that the introduction of this reign of blessedness will be a "woe" upon the earth dwellers who have rejected Christ and His witnesses. The reign that brings in everlasting blessing to the people of God will mean everlasting woe to the haters of God and His Christ. They see in this solemn announcement that at last the time has come when the wrath of the nations against Christ and His people, will be met by the wrath of God.

Then, too, "the time of the dead to be judged" will come. May this not refer to the martyred saints as in Revelation 14:13, who will be recompensed for the sufferings they have endured at the hands of men? Further, in the days of Christ's reign, God's servants, prophets, saints, and all that have feared God's Name throughout the ages, both small and great, will receive their reward, while those who have destroyed the earth will themselves be destroyed.

10 The Dragon (Revelation 11:19-12)

In the previous division of the Revelation, 6 to 11:18 we have had a prophetic unfolding of a series of judgments that will take place on earth between the rapture of the church and the appearing of Christ to claim His kingdom.

In the division that follows, from Revelation 11:19 — Revelation 19:10, we are given details concerning leaders, and great events in heaven and earth during this solemn time. Then, this parenthetical division being completed, we have in the division that follows, from Revelation 19:11 — Revelation 21:8, the unfolding of the future again continued from the appearing of Christ on to the eternal state.

In the opening section of this fresh division, Revelation 11:19 to the end of Revelation 13, there pass before us the prime movers in opposition to God, to Christ, and to His people, during the period of the three woes, or last three trumpet judgments, a period, as we have learned, of three and a half years that will immediately precede the appearing of Christ. During this terrible time, when all wickedness comes to a head, there will be a trinity of evil in the forefront — the Dragon, or Satan (12); the first beast, or head of the revived Roman Empire (Rev. 13:1-10); and the second beast, or Antichrist (Rev. 13:11-18).

(Revelation 11:19) This division of the Revelation would seem more properly to commence with the last verse of Revelation 11, as being introductory to the scenes that follow. In this verse we have a symbolic intimation that God is about to resume His public dealings with the nation of Israel, for we see the temple of God opened in heaven and discover the ark of the covenant. We know from the Old Testament that the temple speaks of God's dwelling, and the ark of the presence of God, in the midst of His earthly people. Does not this vision tell us that, in spite of Israel's long history of failure, God remains true to His covenant with His ancient people? Time was when the ark was in the temple on earth, the witness of God's covenant with Israel, and the token of His presence in their midst. Because of the idolatry of the nation the temple was destroyed and the ark of the covenant removed; and though after the captivity the temple was rebuilt, yet the ark, that spoke of God's immediate presence, was never restored. Now we learn that the ark abode, as it were, in heaven, and hence the covenant with Israel remains; though, on account of their low state, there has been no public witness to this on earth during long centuries. It was a secret cherished in heaven to be disclosed for the comfort of a godly remnant in Israel in the time when God is once more about to bring the nation into blessing.

(Revelation 12:1-2) In accord with the vision of the temple and the ark, Israel at once comes before us under the figure of a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars upon her head. This vision is symbolic, not of the nation of Israel in its failure, as seen in history, but Israel according to the purpose of God, as seen by heaven. Thus, the woman is spoken of as a great wonder in heaven. It is heaven's view of Israel. Being clothed with the sun would surely set forth the supremacy of Israel over the nations. The moon under her feet would imply that all other authority among the nations will be derived from, and subordinate to, Israel. The crown of twelve stars may speak of the administration of the twelve tribes.

(Vv. 3-5) There follows a view of Israel historically, as the nation from whom Christ came into the world, and the circumstances in which He came. The woman in travail with child would recall the sufferings the nation passed through before Christ was born. All had failed — people, priests, and kings — Israel had gone into captivity amid every circumstance of humiliation, suffering, and sorrow. A remnant had been restored, only to lapse into dead formality; and when at last the time had come for the birth of Christ there was only a sorrowing remnant, in the midst of a subject and downtrodden nation, who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Amidst all these humiliations the cry at last goes forth, "To us a child is born."

This great event at once brings to light the great enemy of Christ. If there was a godly remnant, anxiously looking for the coming of Christ and their redemption, there was also the great enemy awaiting His coming to seek His destruction. It is with this great enemy of Christ, and man, that the chapter is mainly occupied.

We are left in no doubt as to who the Dragon is. He is described in verse 9 as "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan." Thus, behind all the wickedness of man, which, in the days that precede the coming of Christ, will rise to its fearful height, we are permitted to see that Satan will be the prime mover. Wicked men will come before us, but they are the instruments of Satan who will be the instigator of their evil.

The dragon is seen in the vision as having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads. These are almost the identical terms used to describe the beast, or head of the Roman Empire, in Revelation 13:1. The symbols thus present Satan as identified with the empire and seeking by means of its head to obtain universal power on earth. The seven heads suggest the idea of complete directing power, while the ten horns point to the instruments through which his power is exercised. The Roman Empire, we know, will be revived in a ten kingdom form (Rev. 17:12). Here the crowns are on the heads; in Revelation 13 they are on the horns. If it is a question of the source of the royal authority of the empire, it is found in Satan; but, in the sight of men, the royal authority is seen in the ten kings; for this reason, it may be, the horns are crowned in Revelation 13:1.

His tail that drew a third part of heaven, may be a symbolic allusion to the false prophet, or second beast of Revelation 13, even as the seven heads and ten horns point to the first beast. This we may gather from a striking passage in Isaiah 9:15, in which we read, "the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail." We may thus learn that the tail represents the deadly spiritual influence that follows from authority falling into the devil's power. If the influence of the first beast is to bring men into bondage to the tyranny of a devilish dictator, the influence of the second beast will end in separating men from all fear, or knowledge, of God.

The Man child is described as the One who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. None can question that this language could only apply to Christ. At once we hear of the opposition of the devil who is exposed as the one who through the ages, from the day he appeared as the serpent in the Garden of Eden until he appears as the Dragon in Revelation, is in deadly opposition to the claims of Christ. He would fain usurp the power that belongs to Christ, and which Christ is destined to wield as the ruler of all nations. Aspiring to this universal authority, he sought, at the birth of Christ, to devour the child. The great contest that has marked the ages, and that has been behind all the conflicts of men, is, Who is to have universal sway on the earth; Christ or the Devil? The answer is never in doubt for a moment, though it may often look as if the devil is triumphant.

The life and death of the Lord Jesus are here passed over in silence, and we are told that the child was caught up to heaven. Here, the subject is not the righteous basis of the blessing for men which is found in the cross, but rather the covenant of God with Israel and His ways in bringing that covenant to pass.

(V. 6) At this point we pass from history to prophecy yet to be fulfilled. From the ascension of Christ to the glory we are carried in thought to the flight of the woman into the wilderness. There is no mention of the nineteen centuries that have intervened during which the church has been gathered out from the world. The number of days that are mentioned again point on to the last half week of Daniel's seventy weeks. Here then we see the nation of Israel represented by a godly remnant that will flee into the wilderness during the three and a half years of the great tribulation. Their flight is immediately connected with the ascension of Christ, for all their sufferings will be owing to the absence of Christ, even as they will be ended by the appearing of Christ. The reign of the beast will, for this godly remnant, turn the world into a wilderness. They will find their refuge and blessing in taking a place outside and apart from the political and religious world of their day with its awful violence and corruption. To stand apart from the world system may indeed involve suffering, but it will secure spiritual blessing, for, in the outside place that God has prepared, this remnant will be nourished a thousand two hundred and threescore days, even as the Lord can say by the prophet Hosea, "I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak to her heart" (Hosea 2:14 N. Tr.).

As in the day to come the blessing of the godly will be found outside of, and in separation from, the political and religious world, so in this day when all is heading up to apostasy and rebellion against God, the only true place of blessing for the believer is outside the camp gathered to Christ. This will indeed be a place of reproach, but will lead to rich spiritual blessing.

(Vv. 7-11) We are now permitted to look behind the scenes on earth to learn what will take place in heaven. It may seem remarkable that Satan has access to heaven, but that in some way it is so is evident from the Book of Job and other Old Testament scriptures. Further we learn that the time is coming when his power will be contested and overthrown in heaven; if in the highest place his power is broken, he knows that his time is short in the lower sphere on earth. In heaven, all through the ages, he has been the accuser of the brethren, but Christ has been their advocate. The sins of God's people that call forth the devil's accusations, bring into activity Christ's advocacy. To all the devil's accusations they have a perfect answer. They can own with sorrow and humiliation the truth of his accusations, but they plead the precious blood which cleanses from all sin. Thus free in conscience by the blood they can maintain "the word of their testimony," even to death.

(V. 12) The heavens are called to rejoice that Satan is cast out, for in this event it is seen that God is about to intervene for the salvation of His earthly people and establish the kingdom of God under the mighty power of Christ. But if the casting out of Satan will bring joy to those who dwell in heaven, it will be woe to those who dwell on earth, for the devil, knowing that his time is short, will be filled with wrath.

(Vv. 13-17) The wrath of the devil will have its greatest expression against the nation of Israel. Against this terrible persecution, during the time of the great tribulation, the providence of God will open a way of escape for the godly. Their safety will be found in keeping themselves apart from the world, according to the Lord's own words to His disciples, when, looking on to this time, He can say, "Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matt. 24:16-21).

The form of Satan's persecution is symbolised by a flood of water from the mouth of the serpent, setting forth, probably, the nations in a fearful state of commotion seeking to sweep the Jews from the face of the earth, as it is said "that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood." "The earth helped the woman," may set forth that, in the providential ways of God, there will be some mitigation of this ruthless persecution by the more ordered and civilised parts of the world. As ever, what stirs up the opposition of Satan will be that the remnant obey God and have the testimony of Jesus.

11 The Beasts (Revelation 13)

The forty and two months of Revelation 13:5, or three and a half years, clearly indicate that the events foretold in this chapter will take place during the last half week of Daniel's seventy weeks — the period immediately preceding the appearing and reign of Christ. From the previous chapter we learn that during this terrible time, when man's wickedness rises to its height, the great power behind all the evil will be the devil. In this chapter we see the two great instruments of evil that the devil will use, and that will appear before the world, are symbolised by two beasts. The first beast clearly represents the political power or revived Roman Empire finding its expression in its head (Rev. 13:1-10). The second beast, or religious power, is surely the Antichrist or false prophet (Rev. 13:11-18).

(V. 1) In this vision John sees the first beast rise up out of the sea. As a symbol the restless sea is often used to set forth the nations in an unsettled and revolutionary condition. Are we not then to learn that out of a condition of anarchy and confusion a great imperial power will arise, the characteristics of which are set forth under the figure of a beast "having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns and upon his heads the name of blasphemy?"

The outstanding feature of this power will be that, like a beast, it will act in utter disregard of God. From the prophecy in Daniel 7:7-8, and also the further light given in Revelation 17:8-13, we may conclude that this beast sets forth the revived Roman Empire. The prophecies of Daniel, under the figures of four beasts, foretell the four great world empires that will exercise government during the times of the Gentiles. The first was likened to a lion; the second to a bear; the third is said to be like a leopard. As to the fourth beast, Daniel can find nothing in nature to which it can be likened. He describes it as "being dreadful and terrible," and "diverse from all the beasts that were before it." Moreover, he says, "it had ten horns." In this chapter of Revelation we again have a ten-horned beast, and in the seventeenth chapter this ten-horned beast with seven heads is connected with "seven mountains." Is it not clear that all these scriptures refer to the same beast, and that this imperial power is the revived Roman Empire with its centre in Rome, the seven-hilled city? Upon the seven heads John sees names of blasphemy indicating that this last world empire will not only, like a beast, be ignorant of God but will be deliberately antagonistic to God.

(V. 2) Further, the beast that John sees is likened to a leopard, a bear, and a lion. It is plain then that this last world empire during the times of the Gentiles, will gather up and combine in itself all the evil features of the first three imperial powers. Moreover, we learn that this last empire will have a directly Satanic source, for the power of his throne and authority are derived from the dragon, that we know, from the last chapter, is the "old serpent," "the Devil and Satan."

(Vv. 3, 4) From Revelation 17:9-10 we learn that the seven heads not only set forth seven mountains but also "seven kings," or forms of government. John sees one of these heads wounded to death, doubtless setting forth the destruction of the imperial power of Rome which, we know from history, has led to the break up of the Roman Empire as a world-wide political power for many past centuries. From this Scripture, and Revelation 17, we learn that this empire will be revived as set forth by the deadly wound being healed. This revival will be a wonder to all the world and call forth its admiration for a power with which no other power can be compared, and with whom none will dare to make war. Nevertheless, to praise and laud this empire will in reality be worship to the devil.

(Vv. 5-7) In the verses that follow we are permitted to see the outstanding marks of this revived empire, personified in its head. Firstly, the head of this empire, like every other dictator that attempts to rule the world, will above all else seek to exalt himself and boast in himself, as we read, he will have a "mouth speaking great things."

Secondly, behind the mouth that boasts in himself there will be a heart that hates God, for he will open "his mouth in blasphemy against God."

Thirdly, the one that hates God will oppose God's people, for we read he will "make war with the saints," and, for a strictly limited time, will be allowed to overcome them.

Fourthly, for a time this terrible power will be allowed to have universal sway over men, for power will be given to it "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation."

(V. 8) The terrible effect of this power upon "all that dwell on the earth" is then brought before us. Those who have all their thoughts and desires centred in the earth, and seek to utterly exclude any belief in God, or a hereafter, will be delighted to find an all-powerful leader who opposes God and His saints. They will gladly worship this instrument of Satan proving, indeed, that they are not of the number of those whose names, from the founding of the world, have been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain (N. Tr.).

(Vv. 9, 10) A solemn warning follows: "If any man have an ear let him hear." If we have faith to believe in God, let us pay heed to what God says, when He tells us that the one that leads others into bondage will at last come into bondage himself; and, in due time, the one that kills with the sword will himself come to a violent end. This solemn assurance that judgment will at last overtake the wicked enables the saints to wait in patience and faith for God to deal with the wicked and secure the blessing of His persecuted people.

(Vv. 11-18) In the remaining verses of the chapter we have the vision of a second beast that John sees coming up out of the earth, setting forth an ordered condition of society in contrast to the first beast who arises from the sea, the symbol of society in a condition of confusion and anarchy.

In the vision this beast has two horns like a lamb. Is not this the pretence of resembling Christ and thus seeking to take the place of a religious leader, even as the first beast assumes the place of a political leader? Nevertheless, while having the appearance of a lamb, he speaks as a dragon. Even as the first beast, he will be an active instrument of the devil.

A comparison of the account of this beast with that of the "man of sin" described in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians 2:3-12, will lead to the conclusion that both passages describe the same person, and equally present the Antichrist foretold by the Apostle John in his epistle as going to appear at the end of the age (1 John 2:18). It is only in the Epistle of John that the Antichrist is referred to by name. There his character is wholly religious and he is presented as an heretical apostate that denies foundation truths as to Divine Persons in connection both with Judaism and Christianity. He denies that Jesus is the Christ — the expectation of the Jew; further, he denies the Father and the Son, the outstanding revelation of Christianity.

We may gather from the mention of the temple in 2 Thessalonians 2 that this second beast, or religious leader, will have his seat at Jerusalem; while the first beast, or political leader, will have his centre in the West, at the seven-hilled city of Rome.

This second beast, under the power of Satan, will use his authority to lead those who dwell on the earth to entirely set aside all fear of God by exalting man into an object of worship. Having refused Christ, these earth dwellers will be deceived by means of the miracles that this man will have the power to perform. In result the grossest form of idolatry the world has ever known will be set up in the very sphere that once had the light of Christianity. The first beast, while he will astonish the world by reviving the Roman Empire, will apparently perform no miracles. This second beast, energised by Satan, performs great wonders, even to making fire come down from heaven. Elijah, in his day, was empowered by God to call down fire from heaven to witness to the true God and expose the worship of an idol. What Elijah did by the power of God, Antichrist will imitate by the power of the devil, to turn from the true God to worship an idol, or image of the beast. In Elijah's day the fire having exposed the idolaters, the prophets of Baal were slain. In the coming day the wonder of the fire from heaven having deceived men into the worship of an idol, those who refuse to worship the image will be slain (1 Kings 18:36-40).

This wicked man will claim universal religious authority over all — both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond. To enforce his authority he will insist that a public submission to the first beast is made by a public mark in the right hand and in the forehead, without which it will be humanly impossible to exist, for without this mark none will be able to buy or sell.

There does not appear to be any indication of the symbolic meaning of the number of the beast; doubtless it will be made plain at the needed moment. In the meanwhile we have to beware of drawing deductions which may expose us to every imagination of the human mind.

We know that the present age is spoken of by the Lord as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). From the prophecy of Daniel we learn that these times commenced with the government of the world being taken from the Jews, who had fallen into idolatry, and being placed in the hands of the Gentiles, represented by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom it was said, "The God of heaven has given thee the kingdom, power, strength, and glory;" and wheresoever the children of men dwell he was made "ruler over them all" (Dan. 2:37-38).

Alas! even as the Jew had broken down, so the Gentiles have utterly failed in carrying out the responsibility, given them by God, to govern the world. This failure was manifest at the outset, for Nebuchadnezzar, as another has said "Instead of conducting himself humbly as a man before God — as before Him who had given him his power, on the one hand, he exalted himself, and on the other hand, ravaged the world to satisfy his will."

As with the first leader of the Gentiles, so throughout the centuries different forms of government have been used by dictators and democrats, in rebellion against God and ruthless cruelty towards men, in seeking their self-exaltation and self-aggrandisement. It has been pointed out that through the centuries the world has been attempting to control evil, and right wrongs, either by democrats or dictators. On the one hand, men find that pure democracy is too weak to control the passions of men, and when utter confusion has been the result of the rule of uncontrolled democrats, men have sought relief by submitting to a dictator, even as the French revolution was followed by setting up Napoleon. On the other hand, nations soon find that the rule of dictators is too tight and ends in all liberty being taken from men. This again leads nations to swing back to an extreme democracy.

The solemn fact is that neither democrats nor dictators can control the power of evil that is working beneath the surface. The devil is the prince of this world, and his power, leading men to rebel against God and to destroy one another by tyranny and war, is too great for man to control by his own power. Little wonder then that men's hearts are "failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth," and that they use the proverb, "After us the Deluge." But, as it has been remarked, this is only an exaggerated expression of their self-importance and, we may add, a confession of their impotence to right the evils of the world.

From these two solemn chapters of the Revelation — 12 and 13 — we know that the times of the Gentiles will end in the most terrible form of dictatorship that the world has ever seen. Christendom, having apostatised from God, will fall into utter anarchy and confusion from which men will seek relief by submitting to a power that, though energised by Satan and blaspheming God, will apparently be able to end wars and bring order out of chaos, for men will say, "Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?" In result the age will close in repeating the idolatry with which it commenced, only in a more terrible form. As Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image before which all men were to fall down and worship, or be thrown into a fiery furnace, so, in the last days all that dwell on the earth will have to worship the image of the beast, or be killed.

Men are dreaming of a "new order" which they hope to bring about by their own efforts and which will secure a world of peace and plenty. But, as one has said, "Instead of permitting ourselves to hope for a continued progress of good, we must expect a progress of evil … We are to expect evil, until it becomes so flagrant that it will be necessary for the Lord to judge it … The New Testament constantly presents to us evil as going on increasing until the end, and that Satan will urge it on until the Lord destroys his power."

Nevertheless, however terrible the end of this present age, it can be faced by the believer in quiet patience and faith in God as he looks on to the glory that lies beyond. In the chapter that follows we shall learn that there is One who can overcome all the power of evil, secure the glory of God, and bring His people into the promised blessing. There we shall see the Son of Man with a crown of victory on His head and the sharp sickle of judgment in His hand.

12 The Remnant (Revelation 14)

In Revelation 12 and 13 we have been instructed as to the activities of Satan and his two leading instruments during the three and a half years that close the present age. In this terrible time all the evil that man can devise under the leading of Satan will be allowed to come to a head. Nevertheless, we now learn, in Revelation 14, that during this solemn time God, who is over all, will be working in securing a people for the blessings of the kingdom and in bringing the wicked under judgment.

(Vv. 1-5) From the opening verses of the chapter we learn that God will have a faithful remnant of believers who will be preserved through the horrors that will mark the reign of the beasts. This remnant is brought before us in a vision that John sees of an hundred and forty-four thousand saints, associated with the Lamb on Mount Zion. As a figure, Zion speaks of God acting in sovereign grace in connection with Israel in contrast to His dealings under law at Mount Sinai (see Psalm 78:65-68; Heb. 12:18-22). Does not the whole scene set forth in symbol that, in these closing days, God will intervene in sovereign grace on behalf of a godly remnant of the Jews, who will be redeemed from the earth, associated with Christ as the suffering Lamb, preserved through persecution, to become the first-fruits to God and the Lamb of the great harvest of souls that will be gathered from the nations to share in the glory of Christ's kingdom?

This remnant will bear a public witness to God and the Lamb for, in contrast to the followers of the beast, they will have the Name of the Lamb, and His Father's Name, on their foreheads (N. Tr.). Though passing through the world's miseries, they will have heaven's joy, for they sing a new song which only the redeemed can sing. We learn, too, under the figure of not being "defiled with women" that they will be kept in separation from the appalling defilements of the days in which their lot will be cast — a condition that, we know from other Scriptures, will be similar to the days before the flood and the days that preceded the judgment of Sodom (Luke 17:26-30). Moreover, they will not only be separate from evil but they will also be a positive witness to Christ, for they will be faithful followers of "the Lamb whithersoever He goes." They will not seek to escape suffering or persecution by any false pretension, for on their lips will be "no guile," and in their practical conduct they will be "without fault."

How good, too, for believers in this our day, who are the subjects of sovereign grace, to seek to walk in separation from the growing evils of the day, whether political or religious, and, in obedience to the Word, take a place outside the camp, in order to gather to Christ, and as it were "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes;" to witness to Christ without "guile" and walk "without fault."

(Vv. 6, 7) Further, we learn that, though in this solemn time evil will come to a head, yet the world will not be left without a witness to God. There will be a world-wide proclamation of "the everlasting gospel." It will be preached "to those settled on the earth" (N. Tr.) — that special class who throw off all fear of God and seek their all in this world. It will also be proclaimed "to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people." From the beginning of history until the end, there is only one way of salvation for fallen man — through the blood of Christ, for there is none other name under heaven given amongst men whereby they can be saved. This good news is truly then the "everlasting gospel," that is proclaimed to all. But if the gospel that brings salvation to man is ever the same, the end in view may vary at different times. Today, the gospel of the grace of God has in view the calling out of a people from this world for heavenly blessing. The gospel preached in the coming day will be to secure a people for Christ's earthly kingdom. Moreover, when the world has fallen under the fear of wicked men, and will worship the beast, men will be warned to "Fear God," and to "give glory to Him," and "worship Him who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters." Further, men will be warned that "the hour of His judgment is come." It will be a gospel of blessing with warnings of imminent judgment.

(V. 8) Then we learn that during these solemn days, great Babylon will fall. This false system which for long ages, while making a profession of Christianity, has in reality corrupted all nations, will not only come under the judgment of God, but will fall before men, for, as we read a little later, the nations, under the leading of the beast shall destroy this false system (Rev. 17:15-18).

(Vv. 9-12) It becomes clear that in these solemn times there will be the followers of the beast with his mark upon them (Rev. 13:15-18) and the followers of the Lamb with His mark in their foreheads. There will be the proclamation of the beast telling all that dwell on the earth to worship the image of the beast; and there will be the everlasting gospel telling men to fear God, the Creator and Judge. There will be the decree of the beast that none can buy or sell without the mark of the beast. There will also be the warning of God that everlasting torment will be the portion of those who receive the mark of the beast. As it has been said, "The choice must now be made between God and Satan, between Christ and Antichrist, between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error: and that choice once made is final and irrevocable, the results eternal and unalterable." To refuse the mark of the beast, to obey God, and be true to Jesus, will call forth the endurance of the saints.

(V. 13) The endurance of those who refuse the mark of the beast, and obey God, and remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus, may indeed lead, in many cases, to a martyr's death. Such might fear that they will miss the blessings of the kingdom, but they will be encouraged with the assurance that, so far from missing blessing, they will receive a special blessing, for the word to such is, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord henceforth." They will rest from their labours, and have their reward, for their works do follow them.

(Vv. 14-20) In the two closing scenes of the chapter we have, firstly, a vision of the Son of Man reaping the harvest of the earth, and, secondly, the vine of the earth cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Do not these two visions set forth in symbolic language that these solemn days will end in those who have "the faith of Jesus" being gathered together for millennial blessing, while the wicked, likened to the grapes of a winepress come under overwhelming judgment, as set forth by being trodden under foot without the city?

To sum up the instruction of this deeply important chapter, which unfolds the dealings of God in the closing years of this age, we see:
Firstly, there will be a godly remnant of the Jews associated with Christ, following Christ, and preserved for kingdom blessing (1-5).
Secondly, a gospel testimony, with warnings of imminent judgment will be proclaimed to all nations (6-7).
Thirdly, corrupt Christendom, under the figure of that great city Babylon, will fall and come to its end (8).
Fourthly, the worshippers of the beast will come under eternal judgment (9-12).
Fifthly, true believers who in this terrible time are faithful to death will have their reward (13).
Sixthly, all the people of God — those who by grace have accepted the "everlasting gospel" — will form a rich harvest for God (14-16).
Seventhly, those who have rejected the testimony of God and worshipped the beast will come under the vengeance of God's wrath (17-20).

13 The Vials (Revelation 15-16)

There have been brought before us, in Revelation 12 and 13, the fearful outburst and rebellion against God that will take place under Satan and his instruments in the sphere of the Roman Empire, during the three and a half years that will precede the coming of Christ to put all enemies under His feet and establish His kingdom.

We have further learned that during this time God will secure a people for the kingdom of Christ, announce the everlasting gospel to the nations, and deal in judgment with the wicked.

Now we are to learn in Revelation 15 —16 further details of the special judgments that will fall upon both the Eastern and Western spheres of the kingdom in which the beasts will exercise their dominion.

(15:1) These judgments are referred to as "the seven last plagues" that will precede the appearing of Christ, and we are told that "in them is filled up the wrath of God."

(Vv. 2-4) Before we hear of the judgments that will come upon those who wear the mark of the beast, and worship his image, we are assured of the blessing of those who will get the victory over the beast and his image. In the vision John sees these saints standing on a sea of glass, mingled with fire, having the harps of God. Does this not set forth in symbolic language that these saints have passed through fiery trial and reached a scene of fixed purity, where there will be no more fear of defilement, and where sorrow will give place to songs of joy and praise? They are seen as having been delivered from "the seven last plagues," even, as of old, Israel was delivered from the plagues that fell upon the Egyptians. As that deliverance called forth from Moses a song of praise, so, again, this future deliverance will be followed by a similar burst of praise, that will ascribe their deliverance to the great and marvellous works of the Lord God Almighty, who is just and true in all His ways, and the "King of nations" (N. Tr.). Under the influence of the two beasts, led by Satan, the world will rise in rebellion against God and the Lamb. These saints who have gotten the victory over the beast will sing the song of the Lamb by which they delight to own that the Lamb that was slain is worthy "to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12), and they foresee that the time has come when all nations shall worship before God; for, at last, His judgments are no longer, as hitherto, of a providential character, but they are "made manifest."

(Vv. 5-8) Having learned the blessing of those who get the victory over the beast, we at once see that the way is opened for judgment upon those who have the mark of the beast. By the symbols used, are we not to learn that these final judgments, before Christ comes, will not only deal with the evil of the nations, but will also be a testimony to the holiness of God's dwelling place, for the angels that are used to execute these judgments come forth from "the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven?" In witness to, and in suitability with, the holiness of God's temple, the angels are "clothed in pure and white linen," and, as becoming those who are about to execute judgment, their affections are held in by a golden girdle that speaks of the righteousness of God.

Directly the angels come forth, "the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power," and during the time of these judgments "no man was able to enter into the temple." May this not set forth that when God is acting in judgment there will, in this solemn time, be neither worship nor intercession in His presence?

(Revelation 16:1-2) The wrath of God expressed by the first vial is poured out upon "the earth" which signifies people under a settled government. The reference to the beast suggests that this will be the sphere of the revived Roman Empire. This judgment afflicts the men who have the mark of the beast, and worship his image, with "a noisome and grievous sore." This would seem to symbolise some terrible fretting trouble that on the one hand will fill the minds of those who submit to the tyranny of the beast which takes away all liberty in buying or selling; and, on the other hand, will plunge them into misery through having thrown off all fear of God. Whether in the world, or amongst God's people, the principle remains true that to seek our own gratification, by doing our own will, only leads to sorrow. What we sow in the gratification of the flesh we reap in misery of mind.

(V. 3) In contrast to the first vial which is poured out upon the earth, the second vial is poured "upon the sea." Does this not represent the world in a state of unrest? May it not be that the bondage and tyranny of the beast will turn an orderly people into a restless people? This worship of the beast, and the restless condition involved, will lead to a judgment that signifies moral death or separation from God of "every living soul" who falls under this awful apostasy.

(Vv. 4-7) The third angel pours out his vial upon "the rivers and fountains of waters." As a symbol a river is used in Scripture to set forth a source of life and blessing, whether temporal or spiritual. We read of "rivers of living water" and the "river of water of life" (John 7:38; Rev. 22:1). The river becoming blood would seem to signify that all the springs of thought which form men's lives will become vitiated, and instead of leading to life and happiness, will lead to misery and moral death.

The angel justifies God in His righteous judgment. It is just, that those who have shed the blood of saints and prophets, who have testified to the truth, should themselves drink of the cup of death — and that in its most terrible form as everlasting separation from God — seeing they have poisoned men's minds with error. Men may be mighty and, for a time, be allowed to show the evil of their hearts in persecuting God's people, but the Lord God is Almighty and, in His own time, will avenge the blood of His people. The allusion to the martyrdom of saints would again show that these judgments are specially directed against the kingdom of the beast.

(Vv. 8, 9) The fourth angel pours out his vial upon the sun. As a figure, the sun speaks of supreme authority. May this not refer to the reign of the beast who in this solemn time will hold the supreme power of a dictator? Under this ruthless power men will be deprived of all liberty, and like one scorched with fire, all power of resistance destroyed. Alas! instead of repenting of their idolatry, and giving God the glory that alone is His, they will blaspheme the name of God who they will realise has power over these plagues.

(Vv. 10, 11) The fifth vial is poured out on the seat or "throne of the beast;" with the result that his kingdom becomes full of darkness. This surely speaks of the spiritual darkness that must result in a kingdom ruled over by one that derives his power from Satan. Men are reduced to gnawing misery, but, alas! in spite of their pains and sores they neither turn to God nor repent of their deeds.

(Vv. 12-16) The sixth vial is poured out on "the great river Euphrates." This river has ever been the Eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. The river being dried up would symbolise that the barrier that keeps the Eastern and Western nations from intermingling will be removed. The way of the kings of the East being prepared would suggest that all the evil superstitions of the East will be allowed to overflow the West. Moreover, the three unclean frogs from the trinity of evil represented by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, working miracles, would imply that the Eastern nations will be corrupted by the leaders in the West. In result "the kings of the earth and of the whole world," having mutually corrupted one another, will gather together in united opposition to God, the Almighty. Men may think, at this awful juncture of the world's history, that the East and the West have joined for their own glory and to bring in a new order according to their own wills. They will little realise that they are being gathered together by the devil to oppose God.

A word of encouragement and warning is given to those who, in this terrible time, fear God. Such are reminded that if the whole world is united under the devil in opposition to God, yet God, through the coming of Christ, will unexpectedly intervene in judgment upon the world, for His coming will be as a thief. But if His coming will be unexpected judgment for the world, it will bring blessing for those who are watching, and who walk in separation from the world as set forth by keeping their garments clean. The reference to Armageddon carries us in thought to Meggido of the Old Testament, where, in the days of the Judges, the nations, gathered together against God's people, found that God was against them in judgment, as we read, "They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera" (Judges 5:19-20). When God sends out His "everlasting gospel" to every nation to gather a people for the kingdom of Christ, the dragon, the beast, and the Antichrist will combine to gather "the kings of the earth and the whole world" to fight against God the Almighty, only to meet overwhelming judgment at the hands of the Almighty.

(Vv. 17-21) With the outpouring of the seventh vial the judgment of the nations will reach its solemn climax, as we learn from the great voice from heaven and from the throne of judgment, which proclaims, "It is done."

This final judgment falls upon "the air" setting forth surely that the very life-breath of man is affected by an upheaval, set forth by a "mighty earthquake" which will so affect the whole of society that it will be impossible for family, social, or political existence to continue. It will break up the power of Rome — "the great city" — as indeed all the powers of the world, set forth by "the cities of the nations." But above all, that corrupt religious system, symbolised by "great Babylon," that through the ages has opposed God and His people, will come into remembrance before God and will have to drink of the cup of the fierceness of His wrath. All earthly refuges will fail to hide men from the storm of judgment for "every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." There will be no escape from the hurricane of judgment that is likened to a mighty hailstorm. Alas! instead of confessing that their sins have brought down this storm of judgment, men will blaspheme God as being the author of all their troubles.

As we read of these terrible judgments that will fall upon the sphere of Christendom, how solemn to realise that in the very portion of the world in which our lot is cast, and which for centuries has enjoyed the outward privileges of Christianity and where the grace of God in the gospel has been proclaimed, there the great apostasy will develop and there the wrath of God as expressed in these vials will be poured out.

14 The Woman and the Beast (Revelation 17)

We have learned from Chapter 13 that during the reign of the beast — the head of the revived Roman Empire — all the evils of the times of the Gentiles will reach their terrible climax. Then we have learned, from Revelation 14—16, that these evils will call down the judgments of God upon the kingdom of the beast and the worshippers of his image. This intervention of God will also reach its climax in the judgments symbolised by the pouring out of the seven vials which are definitely described as "the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God" (Rev. 15:1). These final judgments prepare the way for the personal return of Christ as foretold in Revelation 19:11-18.

But before this great event is described, we are given, in Revelation 17 — 18, further details of the overwhelming judgment that will overtake the false religious system that is set forth under the figures of a false woman, and the great city Babylon. Already in the course of these judgments we have had two brief allusions to the judgment of Babylon (Rev. 14:8, Rev. 16:19). But this corrupt system has loomed so largely in the history of the world that God has seen well to warn His people to be wholly apart from it by giving us, in these two chapters, further details as to its true character and its solemn end under the judgment of God.

Attention to the Word will make it plain that under the figure of Babylon we have a presentation of corrupt Christendom as set forth in Papal Rome. In verse 9 the vision is identified with the seven-hilled city of Rome. In verse 15 we have a system which has exercised almost universal sway over "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues:" again, in verse 18 it is viewed as having reigned "over the kings of the earth." Is it not manifest that only Papal Rome answers to this description?

This corrupt system that claims to be the church is, in reality, the devil's imitation. In these chapters, then, it is no longer the Antichrist that is before us, but the antichurch. We have a twofold view of this false church. In Revelation 17 it is presented under the figure of a woman; in Revelation 18 it is seen under the figure of a great city. The woman presents the Papacy in all its corruption, as seen by God, for the woman is presented as a harlot. The city sets forth the Papacy as seen by man in all its magnificence and luxury. A little later, in the Revelation, we shall see a wonderful vision of the true church, first as the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19) and then in relation to the world as a heavenly city (Rev. 21). Here we have the devil's imitation which, though claiming to be the church of Christ, is exposed as being a corrupt harlot and a worldly city.

Viewing this false system as presented in Revelation 17, we notice that in the first division — verses 1-6 we have the vision seen by John. In the second division — verses 7-18 — we have the angel's interpretation of the vision.

(Vv. 1, 2) John is told that he will be shown the judgment of this false system which is described not only by the figure of a woman, but a corrupt and licentious woman, thus setting forth in figure that this false system would rob men of all true allegiance to Christ. Her widespread influence is expressed by the statement that she "sits upon many waters." Her evil influence upon the leaders that govern in Christendom is set forth under the figure of unholy intercourse with "the kings of the earth."

(Vv. 3, 4) To see this vision John is carried away in spirit "into the wilderness." This corrupt system creates but a wilderness in which there is nothing for God or man. In the midst of this wilderness, John sees the vision of a woman sitting upon a scarlet coloured beast with seven heads and ten horns.

Let us remember that the vision, while expressing the evil of the Papacy throughout the ages, presents its last phase when it will be publicly associated with the beast, or revived Roman Empire. The woman sitting upon the beast suggests that for a brief time the Papacy, in its last phase, will rule the empire and have its support. The revived Roman Empire, with its confederacy of kings, in seeking to overthrow all fear of God and establish the worship of the image of the beast, will apparently find in the corrupt Papacy a ready instrument to attain these evil ends, for this evil system is, and always has been, itself, marked by the grossest idolatry. This idolatry is symbolised by the golden cup in the hand of the woman full of abominations. Here, as so often in the Old Testament, abominations speak of idolatry. The "golden cup" may give a fair appearance before men, but the contents of the cup are an abomination in the sight of God. Is it not clear, then, that in the near future the Papacy will publicly identify itself with the political power in seeking to lead men to abandon the true God, and give themselves up to idolatry? The religious power and the political powers will unite in leading the world back into the grossest heathenism. The dog will return to his vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Such will be the terrible end of corrupt professing Christendom.

(V. 5) The terrible character of the Papacy is further set forth by the name that John sees written on the forehead of the woman. The first word "Mystery," as used in Scripture, does not suggest something mysterious, but, as it has been said, it "points to something undiscoverable by the natural mind of man, a secret that requires the distinct and fresh light of God to unravel." Apart from this revelation, John would never have imagined that in Christendom there would develop a great system that professes the name of Christ, and claims to be the church, and yet becomes so utterly corrupt that it is described as "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Of old the literal Babylon, though for a time the greatest city on earth, was the centre and source of idolatry and corruption. In a spiritual sense the Papacy becomes "Babylon the great," for, like the Babylon of old, it is the centre of corruption, luxury, and the glory of this world: and, again, as "the mother of harlots" it becomes the spring and mainstay of all the idolatrous abominations of the earth. Does this not indicate that all the corruptions of Christendom have their origin in the Papal system; and may we not infer that after the church is caught away all that is left on earth that makes any profession of Christianity will be expressed by "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" and will come under judgment as such?

(V. 6) Further, in the vision, John sees that the woman was "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Not only has the Papacy been a source of idolatry and corruption but, throughout the ages, it has opposed and persecuted the true people of God. Pagan Rome, in its day, persecuted God's people, but such persecutions were small compared with the millions of "the martyrs of Jesus" that, under the Papacy, have been hounded to death in wholesale massacres, by the horrors of the rack and the fires of the stake.

That Christians should have been persecuted by Pagans would have been no surprise to the Apostle, but to learn that a time was coming when the professing church would become the centre of idolatry and the bitter persecutor of the saints, naturally led him to wonder "with great wonder."

(Vv. 7, 8) To meet the wonder of the Apostle, the angel reveals the mystery of this terrible association of corrupt Christendom with the corrupt government of the world. First, from verses 8-14, the angel gives us the history of the beast, or Roman Empire. This empire is described as having once existed, then for a time ceasing to exist, but as about to be revived in the most terrible form as ascending "out of the bottomless pit," and thus energised by Satan, but finally to meet with overwhelming destruction. We know that the once powerful Roman Empire has for centuries ceased to exist as a world-wide power. Here we learn that, to the wonder of those who dwell on the earth, and have no part in the book of life, it will for a short period be revived. We know that the powers that be are ordained of God; but the time is coming when, during this revival of the Roman Empire, the governmental powers will cease to be ordained of God, and for a short period will be directed by Satan from the bottomless pit; as one has said, "For a short time Satan will bring forth an empire suited to his own purposes, as it springs from Satanic principles which deny God."

(Vv. 9-11) We are then told that the symbols of the seven heads have a double meaning. They set forth the seven mountains, which are more especially connected with the woman, and would surely set forth the well-known fact that the Papacy has its seat in the seven-hilled city of Rome. Further, the seven horns represent seven kings, or forms of government by which Rome at different periods has been ruled. In the Apostle's day five forms of government had already passed away, and the sixth, or imperial form of government, was then in power. This, too, has for centuries ceased to exist. But in the future the empire will be revived under a seventh form of government distinguished again by imperialism, but associated, as the Apostle learns, with a confederacy of ten kings. Moreover, the head of the revived empire will be of the seven inasmuch as it has an imperial character, and yet, in a sense will be an eighth, seeing that it will spring from a directly diabolical source.

(Vv. 12, 13) The ten horns, we are told, represent ten kings who will reign concurrently with the beast. They will unite in giving power and authority to the beast. Does not the prophecy clearly indicate that in the future Europe will seek "peace and safety" by forming itself into a confederation of ten kingdoms under the central authority of the head of the Roman Empire, who will be directly led by the power of Satan?

(V. 14) This confederacy will lead the Western powers into the complete apostasy of Christendom, for these ten kings, or the kingdoms they represent, while seeking to keep peace with one another, will unite in making war with the Lamb. This, indeed, will involve their destruction, for the Lamb that they dare to oppose, "is Lord of lords, and King of kings," the One who will overcome all rebellion. The saints, that under the reign of the beast have been persecuted, will be associated with Christ in His judgment of this satanic confederation, for they are "called, and chosen, and faithful."

(Vv. 15, 16) Having foretold the character and doom of the revived Roman Empire, the angel now reverts to the Papacy to let us know the destruction of this false system. We are first told that the vision of the woman sitting upon the many waters sets forth the world-wide influence of the Papacy over "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." Then we learn that the time is coming when the confederated nations will turn upon this false system, as one has said, "Unhallowed love will end in hatred." They will strip her of all power, treat her with shameful exposure, and seize upon her resources, and thus bring about her destruction.

(V. 17) Further, we learn that in the destruction of this fearful system, the nations will unwittingly be carrying out the will of God, though their object may be to give the supreme ruling power to the beast. But God is over all, whether it be in the destruction of the false woman or ending the reign of the beast. These evil powers can only last "until the words of God shall be fulfilled."

(V. 18) The woman that at last will be destroyed by the ten kingdoms is that great imposing system that, under the figure of a great city, is represented as having reigned over the kings of the earth, and, as one has said, has been "The seat of anxious and tortuous ambition, of crimes and deceit of every kind, haughty power over others, and worldly luxury and evil."

15 The Great City Babylon (Revelation 18)

There is a deep importance for Christians, as well as intense solemnity, attaching to Revelation 17—18, as therein we have a complete setting forth of the terrible character of the last phase of corrupt Christendom and of its final doom. In Revelation 17 we have learned that the corrupt religious system that through the ages has professed to be the church of God, and finds its greatest expression in the Papacy, will at last be found in unholy alliance with a worldly empire that derives its power from the bottomless pit. While professing the Name of Christ, this false church is utterly untrue to Christ, as set forth by the figure of the false woman.

(Vv. 1-3) In Revelation 18 we see this same corrupt religious system set forth under the figure of a great and imposing city, and we learn that the Papacy, which for ages has claimed to be exclusively the church of God, and thus "the habitation of God through the Spirit," will, in its terrible end, "become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." These solemn truths are announced by an angel from heaven who, invested with great authority, enlightens the darkness of earth with the glory of heaven. With a strong voice that none can gainsay, the angel announces the fall of this false system, and in a few brief words sums up its evil effect upon the world at large. "All nations" have been utterly deceived by her intoxicating influence. Kings have been indulged in evil by their unholy association with her; and the worldly minded have been "enriched through the might of her luxury."

(Vv. 4-8) In view of the terrible character of this corrupt system, and the overwhelming judgment coming upon it, John hears a voice from heaven — which surely is the voice of Christ — saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." In the beginning of the Christian period believers were exhorted to "come out" from among the idolaters of the heathen world, and be "separate" (2 Cor. 6:16-17). In the end of the Christian period, in which our lot is cast, believers are exhorted to "come out" of the corrupt Christian profession as represented in all the fulness of its evil by the Papacy. We are not called to attempt to reform it, or overthrow it; but to come out of it, lest we partake of its sins. Babylon means "confusion," and no word could more adequately set forth the terrible result of that which professes the name of Christ being marked by the friendship of the world which is at enmity with God. It ends in the outward form of religion being used as a cloak to cover up "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." Against these sins we are warned. Our danger is that, even as true believers, we may fall into "her sins." What are her sins? Is not this her outstanding sin, that, while professing to be the church of God this terrible system is the practical denial of Christianity? She has dared to associate the Name of Christ with every worldly indulgence and fleshly lust. Instead of sheltering the Lord's people she has for ages been a persecutor of the saints. Instead of exalting Christ she has glorified herself. Instead of following Christ and letting go the present life, she has lived delicately. Instead of taking the path of a stranger and pilgrim as called out of this world, she has reigned as a queen in this world.

To escape these sins we are exhorted to "come out " and be wholly apart from the corruptions of Christendom. Our place as believers is outside the camp to gather to Christ who is in reproach in the world.

We are warned that the judgment of this worldly religious system will be sudden and overwhelming. The one that has boasted she will see no sorrow, will fall under "death and mourning, and famine." However powerful and firmly established she may appear before men, her fall will be complete: "she will be utterly burned with fire," for "strong is the Lord God who judges her." It is not for believers to attempt to wage a crusade against the wickedness of Rome. God, who is "strong," will in His own time and way render to her double for all the misery she has caused to the true people of God. Our responsibility, as believers, is to obey the Lord's words, "Come out of her my people."

(Vv. 9-19) In the verses that follow we have the lament of "the kings of the earth," and "the merchants of the earth," over the fall of this vile system. The ten kings, under the beast, may be used for her destruction. But having destroyed her, these kings and merchants will realise how much the material grandeur of their great cities and the prosperity of their commerce was dependent upon this false system. Discovering that her destruction is an immense loss, socially and commercially, they will lament her fall. The merchants of the earth that have been enriched by her love for magnificent buildings and earthly luxuries will lament that "no man buys their merchandise any more." What a fearful condemnation of professing Christendom to learn that it is supported by kings because it adds to their earthly grandeur and luxury, and by merchants because it becomes a fruitful source of trade and money-making! Corrupt Christendom ends in becoming the greatest power on earth to advance worldliness, luxury, and material profit. In this evil system everything is turned into a means of worldly profit, from gold to the bodies and souls of men. And be it noted that in the things in which she traffics, "gold" has the first place and the "souls of men" the last place as being, in her estimation, of the least importance. In the judgment of God all will "come to nought" (17). She will be stripped of her earthly riches (14), and left "desolate" (19).

(V. 20) If on earth kings and merchants mourn over her fall, in heaven the saints, apostles, and prophets are called to rejoice, for in her fall God will avenge the sufferings of His people at her hands. It is not for believers to seek to avenge themselves. God cannot trust His people to take vengeance. The word is "Avenge not yourselves … for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay says the Lord" (Ps. 94:1; Rom. 12:19).

(Vv. 21-24) In the closing verses three leading truths come before us which sum up the instruction of the chapter as to the appalling character and terrible end of corrupt Christendom. Firstly, we learn how this religious corruption appears in the sight of men; secondly, we see its true character in the sight of God; and thirdly, we are told of the overwhelming judgment by which it will for ever be removed from the earth.

Firstly, in the sight of men it is an imposing system, for it is spoken of as a "great city." Eight times in the course of these chapters the city is referred to as "great." There is everything in it to appeal to the natural man. In verse 22 we read of the music by which it charms the natural ear; of the "craft" that has filled Europe with magnificent buildings that gratify the eye. Then there is found within it the "millstone" that speaks of the commerce by which it has enriched men with material wealth. In it is found the artificial light of the candle speaking of its appeal to natural sentiment, and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride, speaking of natural joy.

Secondly, we have the outstanding marks of this corrupt system as seen by God. We read, "Thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of the saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." (Professing Christendom ends in a system that is the exact contrast to all that the church of God is called to be. Firstly, it is marked by "merchants" and thus characterised by material riches rather than "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Secondly, it is marked by "great men," rather than the weak and base things of the world that God has chosen. Thirdly, those in Babylon are "men of the earth" rather than heavenly men. Fourthly, this system by its "sorceries" is clearly under the influence of wicked spirits rather than the Holy Spirit of God. Fifthly, by it all nations are "deceived;" thus it propagates error rather than truth. Sixthly, in her is found "the blood of prophets and of saints." Thus it persecutes instead of caring for the flock of God. Finally, "all that were slain upon the earth were found in her" setting forth that she is marked by death instead of life.)

Thirdly, we learn the overwhelming judgment that will end the history of corrupt Christendom. For fifteen centuries this awful system has been deceiving the world, but at last its judgment will come in "one day" or "one hour" (verses 8, 10, 17, 19). Like a great millstone flung into the sea, to be found no more on the earth, its judgment is overwhelming and final. It is striking how the Spirit of God repeats the words "no more." When thrown down, it will be found "no more." Its thrilling music that appeals to the natural ear, "shall be heard no more." Its merchandise by which the merchants have been enriched and made great will be "no more." Its natural light that appeals to the natural intellect will be "no more;" and its natural pleasures will be "no more."

16 The Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:1-10)

Looking abroad on Christendom to-day, we see, on the one hand, that the great Christian profession is becoming increasingly corrupt, and will end at last in being supported by the political leaders who derive their power from the bottomless pit; in the language of the symbols, the woman will sit upon the beast. On the other hand, we see the true people of God becoming increasingly weak outwardly and insignificant in the eyes of the world.

In the face of the corruption of the profession, and the weakness among the true people of God, there is the ever present danger that we, who desire to be true to the light that has been given to us, may grow weary and faint in our minds; that our hands may hang down, our knees grow feeble, and that we may wander from the straight and narrow way into a wider and easier path.

In order that we may press on, in spite of every difficulty, and run with patience the race set before us, we continually find in Scripture that the Spirit of God directs our thoughts to the end of the journey. Thus, in this passage, having seen, in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters, the final judgments of all the corruptions of Christendom, we are now carried in spirit to heaven to have unfolded before us the glory of Christ and the final blessing of His people. How good, then,

To look beyond the long dark night,
And hail the coming day
When Thou to all Thy saints in light
Thy glories wilt display.

(V. 1) John can say, "After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven." We are permitted not only to see the final judgment of the false church on earth, but there is also revealed to us the final blessedness of the true church in heaven.

Already, in Revelation 18:20, we have heard that heaven together with saints, apostles, and prophets, are called to rejoice over the judgment of the false woman. Now we are permitted to hear heaven's response for "much people in heaven" are heard saying "Hallelujah." They speak too, with one voice — "a great voice." All the mind of heaven is one. As we sometimes sing, "No jarring note shall there discordant sound." Babylon had professed that salvation was alone found in her false system: she had arrogated to herself glory and power, as we read, "She has glorified herself," and said in her heart, "I sit a queen." Heaven, with one voice, ascribes "salvation," "glory," and "power" to God.

(Vv. 2-4) Moreover, heaven sees that the judgment of this false system is the vindication of the holy character of God. With one voice, heaven says, "True and righteous are His judgments." Looking back we see the arrogance the self-glorification, and display of power of this corrupt system that has been allowed to continue for centuries. We recall, too, the persecutions by which the blood of millions of God's people has been shed at the hands of the false woman, with no apparent intervention on the part of God. Seeing these things we might be tempted to think that God has been indifferent to the evil of the world and the sorrows of His saints. At last the day will come when it will be seen that the longsuffering of God does not mean that He is slack concerning His promise, or that He has not seen the sufferings, and heard the cries, of His people. In righteousness He will judge all the corruptions and avenge the blood of His servants. This intervention of God calls forth a second "Hallelujah" from the hosts of heaven.

Moreover, the saints fall down and worship God, and for the third time we hear heaven raise its "Hallelujah." The first Hallelujah is called forth by the attributes of God, the second Hallelujah for His holy judgments on evil; the third Hallelujah is worship for all that God is in Himself.

(Vv. 5-7) The corruptions of earth having been dealt with and the blood of God's saints avenged, we are permitted to look by faith beyond all the judgments and see the glory of Christ and the blessing of His people. We see that the way is opened for the reign of Christ to be established, and the great day of the marriage of the Lamb is come. In view of these great events, a voice from heaven calls upon all God's servants, both small and great, to praise our God. With great delight heaven responds to the call, for at once John hears the praise of a great multitude like the impetuous rush of waters, and the sublime roll of thunder, saying "Hallelujah." This fourth Hallelujah is the expression of heaven's joy in that the glory of Christ is secured, and the desires of His heart fulfilled. His sufferings will have a glorious answer for the reigning time has come, and His love that led Him to die for the church will be satisfied, for "the marriage of the Lamb is come." We are thus permitted to see the fulfilment of all the counsels of God for Christ and His church. It is blessed to see that from the beginning of man's history, and through all time, God has ever kept before us the truths so dear to His heart concerning the Lamb and the bride. Abel's firstling of the flock begins the story of the Lamb. Abraham takes up the story when he tells us that "God will provide Himself a Lamb;" Moses continues the story when, on the Passover night, he tells Israel to take a lamb "without blemish;" Isaiah foretells that Christ will be "brought as a Lamb to the slaughter." John the Baptist, looking upon Christ upon earth, can say, "Behold the Lamb of God;" Peter reminds us that we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot;" and the Apostle John brings before us the Lamb in the midst of the throne, as it had been slain, and carries us on to the glorious answer to all His sufferings, when the great day of the marriage of the Lamb is come.

Moreover, God has ever had before Him the church as the bride of Christ, to be at last presented to Him for the satisfaction of His heart. Before ever the fall came in may we not see in Eve, who was presented to Adam as one that was "his like," the great secret, now disclosed, that Christ was to have a great company of saints made like Himself and presented to Himself? Rebekah, the one in whom Isaac found comfort and love, keeps up the story of the bride. Again, we know how Asenath, Ruth, Abigail, and the bride of the Song of Songs, all present different pictures of the church as the bride of the Lamb. Throughout the ages and changing dispensations, the rise and fall of Israel, and through the Christian period with all the failure that has marked it — behind all — God has been carrying out His great purpose, and everything has been moving on to the great day of the marriage of the Lamb.

(V. 8) That the bride "has made herself ready" will surely indicate that the judgment seat is past. All the failure in her wilderness journey through this world has been dealt with, and nothing remains but that which has the approval of Christ. The bride will be displayed in fine linen, which, we are at once told, "is the righteousnesses of the saints" (N. Tr.). All that the saints have done for Christ, and in His Name, during the time of their sojourn on earth — all the sufferings, reproaches, and insults, they have endured, every cup of cold water given for His sake — will be remembered in this great day, and be found "to praise and honour and glory." The smallest act that has Christ for its motive is a stitch in the garment that will adorn the church when at last it is presented to Christ without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. How good to realise that not one member of Christ's church will be absent in this great day. Both small and great will be there. Every one of the untold millions of the martyrs who suffered every form of violence and outrage in the days of pagan Rome will be there: all those who passed through yet greater horrors at the hands of Papal Rome will have a glorious answer to all their sufferings. The vast host of saints who through the ages have lived their lives in obscurity under the eye of God as the quiet in the land, and of whom we have no record in history, will at last be displayed in glory as forming part of the bride of Christ, "holy and without blemish."

Oh day of wondrous promise!
The Bridegroom and the bride
Are seen in glory ever;
And love is satisfied.

(V. 9) Further we learn, not only will the church enter into the special place of blessing for which she has been chosen, but there will also be those who are blessed as being "called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." A marriage supper cannot be confined to the Bridegroom and the bride; of necessity it includes the guests. At this great marriage feast, the guests surely represent the great host of the Old Testament saints who, though they form no part of the church called out from Jew and Gentile, during the Christian period between Pentecost and the Rapture, yet they will share in the resurrection of the saints as forming part of that great company that are spoken of as "They that are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23), and will have their special place of blessing in the day of glory. All the long line of saints before the Cross will be there; Abel and the great army of martyrs will be there; Enoch, who walked with God, and the "ten thousands" of God's saints of whom he prophesied, will be there; Abraham and the "strangers and pilgrims" who turned their backs on this world to seek a heavenly country will be there; Moses, and all those who chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, will be there. In a word, all the great host of saints from the Garden of Eden to the cross of Christ, who have trodden the path of faith, "both small and great," of whom the world was not worthy, will be there, and have their part and blessing in the marriage supper of the Lamb.

These wonderful unfoldings of coming glory are closed with the assurance that "These are the true sayings of God." We can, then, be fully persuaded of their truth and heartily embrace them in the faith that rests on "the true sayings of God."

(V. 10) Overcome by the glory of the angel that announces these great events, John falls at his feet to do him homage. At once he is admonished not to worship one that is a fellow-servant, but to worship God. The angel was but a servant to announce the true sayings of God, and thus lead us to worship God — the end of all true service. Moreover, we are reminded that "the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus" (N. Tr.). Prophecy does, indeed, unfold to us the coming judgment of the nations, and the future blessing of God's people, but all is in view of the glory and honour of Jesus. The great end of "the true sayings of God" is Jesus. Well it is, then, in reading prophecy to have before us not simply future events but JESUS Himself.

JESUS, Thou alone art worthy
Ceaseless praises to receive;
For Thy love, and grace, and goodness
Rise o'er all our thoughts conceive.

17 The Appearing of Christ (Revelation 19:11-20:3)

We have already learned from Revelation 11:15-18; that with the sounding of the last judgment trumpet, the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The record of this great event is followed by an important parenthetical portion of the Revelation that brings before us the leading persons and events during the time that immediately precedes the reign of Christ. After this parenthesis the prophetic history of coming events is continued in Revelation 19:11.

(V. 11) We are now told of the public appearing of Christ and His saints to establish His reign over the earth. John says, "I saw heaven opened." Whenever the heavens are opened it is in connection with Christ. When on earth "the heavens were opened to Him" in order that at last heaven could look down and see on earth One in whom the Father found all His delight (Matt. 3:16-17). After the ascension, Stephen can say, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God." The heavens are opened now in order that believers on earth can look up and see a Man in the glory (Acts 7:55-56). In Revelation 4:1 we see "a door opened in heaven" that John might pass in spirit into that scene of glory to find Christ, as the Lamb, the theme of universal praise, being the One who, as Creator and Redeemer, is worthy to receive "glory and honour and power" (Rev. 4:11, Rev. 5:9-14). In this nineteenth chapter the heavens are opened that Christ may come forth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Hereafter we shall still see the "heavens open," that angels may wait upon Christ — the Son of Man — in millennial days, when under the reign of Christ, heaven will be in touch with earth (John 1:51).

In the vision, John sees "a white horse," the symbol of victorious power. His first coming was in circumstances of weakness and lowly grace, as a little babe. The next coming will be in power and glory. We know that the Rider on the white horse can only represent Christ, for who but Christ can be described as "Faithful and True." At His first coming He was marked by "grace and truth" that brought salvation to men. At the second advent He will come forth as Faithful and True to execute judgment; thus, at once, we read "in righteousness He doth judge and make war."

(V. 12) His eyes as a flame of fire, surely speak of the searching gaze from which nothing is hid. The "many crowns" may remind us of His universal dominion and sovereign rights. Then we read, He had "a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself." The passage brings before us other names that, in some measure, we can know, for He is "called Faithful and True," and "His name is called The Word of God," and, again, He has "a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." But if He comes forth as the Son of Man to reign, the glory of His Person as the Son of God is carefully guarded. As such, He is above man and beyond the comprehension of the creature, for "no man knows the Son but the Father" (Matt. 11:27).

(V. 13) His "vesture dipped in blood," would surely speak, not of His blood shed for sinners, but rather of the blood of rebels — the sign of their death under judgment. From the Gospel of John we know that, as the Word, Christ reveals the Father in grace and truth. Here we learn that He declares God in righteousness and wrath against the nations.

(V. 14) We now learn that the glorified saints will come forth with Christ at His appearing. From other Scriptures we know that when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven it will be "with His mighty angels" (2 Thess. 1:7). Also we know that believers will come with Christ, for we read, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4). Here the armies which follow Christ, would seem to refer to the glorified saints rather than angelic hosts. From Revelation 17:14 we have learned that those who are with the Lord of lords and King of kings are "called, and chosen, and faithful," statements that could hardly be applied to angels. Further we read of these followers that they are "clothed in fine linen, white and clean," and thus morally fitted to accompany the King and Lord in His victorious power.

(V. 15) Saints may accompany the Lord but it is He, Himself, who will execute judgment. It is His mouth that will speak the word that, like a sharp sword will destroy the wicked. It is His hand that will wield the rod of iron that, in fulfilment of the second Psalm, will break in pieces the apostate and rebellious nations. It is His feet that, with unsparing judgment, will tread "the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."

(V. 16) Thus, when He appears in glory dealing with all the enemies of God, it will be made manifest that He is, indeed, the "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS," the One of whom God has declared, "I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Ps. 2:8).

(Vv. 17, 18) The verses that close the chapter foretell the judgments that will immediately follow the appearing of Christ. In the ninth verse we have heard of the blessedness of the saints in heaven who will be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Here we read of a very different supper — "the supper of the great God," that will take place on earth, to which those who prey on the remains of the dead are called to feast on kings, captains, mighty men, horses and their riders, free and bond, small and great, who will be overwhelmed in judgment at the appearing of Christ.

(V. 19) If the King of kings comes to earth followed by the armies of heaven, the devil gathers "the kings of the earth and their armies," to make war against Him that sits on the horse and His armies.

(V. 20) The issue of a conflict between Christ with the armies of heaven and the beast leading the armies of earth, can only be the overwhelming defeat of the forces of evil. In the course of the history of this world two men have been singled out for the special glory and honour of being taken to heaven without passing through death. When the world had abandoned itself to violence and corruption Enoch, who walked with God, "was not, for God took him." Again, when the nation of Israel was sinking into corruption and apostasy, the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven. Now we look on to the time when an apostate world will be gathered together to make war against God and Christ, and we learn that the two leaders in this rebellion will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." As it has been pointed out, if God had interposed to show signal mercy in bringing alive to heaven two men who had stood for God, so now God interposes in overwhelming judgment to send alive to the lake of fire two men who had been leaders in evil under Satan. No further judgment at the great white throne is needed for the beast and the false prophet. Their eternal sentence is at once executed. The armies that followed them come under the governmental judgment of the King of kings, but not with such an immediate and terrible doom as that of the two leaders. They must yet appear before the great white throne.

(20:1-3) We have seen the fearful climax of evil to which Christendom of to-day is heading, when the nations under the rulers of these Western lands will be gathered together in open revolt against Christ and the armies of heaven. We have seen, too, the awful doom that awaits the leaders and their armies, and thus, with all the assurance of God's word, we learn the solemn crisis that awaits the world around us. But there remains the arch enemy of God and man, of Christ and His saints. Now we are told who he is and how he will be deprived of all his power. We are reminded that this enemy is that fallen being, "that old serpent," who from the beginning of the world's history, and throughout the ages, has been the active source of all rebellion against God. As the serpent he has, from the beginning, been the seducer of man; as Satan he has been the adversary of man; as the devil he has ever been the accuser of the saints; and as the Dragon he has wielded his power in seeking the destruction of men.

At the appearing of Christ an angel from heaven will, under the symbols of the key and the chain, bind his power and confine him in the bottomless pit, and thus rid the earth of his presence during the thousand years' reign of Christ.

In Revelation 12 we have learned that he will be cast out of heaven "into the earth," and now we learn that he will be cast from earth "into the bottomless pit," to be loosed for a little season when the millennium is fulfilled, before receiving his final doom in the lake of fire.

18 The Millennium (Revelation 20:4-15)

We have learned from the visions seen by the Apostle that the leaders, together with their followers, in the final rebellion of apostate Christendom, will come under summary judgment at the appearing of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.

(V. 4) Now we learn, from the visions that follow, that "the armies which were in heaven" (Rev. 19:14), and that followed the King of kings are invested with judicial authority. Are we not to distinguish in these armies three classes of saints? Firstly, there is the church, together with the Old Testament saints. Already we have seen these saints represented under the figure of elders as surrounding the throne in heaven and intelligent in the mind of God (Rev. 4, 5); then we have seen them presented as the bride and guests at the marriage of the Lamb, for the satisfaction of the heart of Christ (Rev. 19); now we see them as forming part of the armies that follow the Lord out of heaven to be associated with Him in His reign.

Secondly, John sees the resurrection of those who had suffered martyrdom on account of their witness of Jesus, and their faithfulness to the word of God, and who, in the days of the fifth seal, had cried to God, saying, "How long, O Holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth?" They were told to rest yet a little season. That season is over, and the answer to their cry is come, for they are raised to have a glorious reward for all their sufferings, by being associated with Christ in the blessings of His reign.

Thirdly, we hear of those saints who had suffered under the reign of the beast, for refusing to worship him or receive his mark. They, too, will live and reign with Christ a thousand years.

(Vv. 5, 6) The raising of these saints completes the first resurrection. The first resurrection does not signify that all that have part in it are raised at the same moment. Christ's resurrection was the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23); then follows the resurrection of Old Testament saints, and those who have fallen asleep during the present period, at the time of the rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17); and finally the resurrection of the saints at the appearing of Christ, who have died or suffered martyrdom during the period between the rapture and the appearing.

It is clear that the expression "the first resurrection" includes Christ and His saints, and blessed and holy are those who have part in this first resurrection. On such the second death — that final separation between God and the soul — will have no power. The unregenerate will alone have part in the final resurrection at the close of the millennial reign.

(Vv. 7-10) In these verses we are carried to the end of the glorious reign of Christ, to learn that at the end of the thousand years there awaits one final test for man. It seems no part of the purpose of God in the Revelation to describe the blessedness of the millennium. This has already been done in many passages of infinite beauty in Psalms and Prophets of the Old Testament. Here we are taken to the end of the reign of Christ to learn that the flesh never alters. Before the flood men filled the earth with violence and corruption. Under law, man transgressed and fell into idolatry; under grace men utterly reject God's offer of salvation and Christendom becomes apostate. At last, under the reign of Christ in righteousness, it will be found that the instant Satan is loosed "for a little season," the nations will be deceived and gathered together under his leading to oppose Christ and His saints. It has been truly said, "Such is man, and such is Satan. A thousand years' confinement in the bottomless pit has not changed the character of the deceiver. A thousand years' blessedness under Christ's rule has not changed the nature which greedily listens to the deceiver's voice." There will indeed be the saints, and the beloved city, true to the Lord, but the mass of men will be found in opposition to Christ and His own, for men will be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and their numbers as the sand of the sea.

The names Gog and Magog would seem to be used as symbols, borrowed from the Prophet Ezekiel, to represent the hatred and opposition of the world to Christ and His people. In Ezekiel Gog is a literal person, the chief prince of the vast region to the north of Palestine and known in our day as the Empire of Russia.

The issue of this last conflict will not, for a moment, be in uncertainty, as in the conflicts of men. The destruction of these rebels will be instantaneous and overwhelming. Fire from God, out of heaven, will devour them, and Satan, the leader in this last rebellion, will enter upon his final doom in the lake of fire, where already the beast and the false prophet are confined, there to "be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

(Vv. 11-15) Another scene of intense solemnity follows — the judgment of the "great white throne." This surely takes place in eternity, for we read, "the earth and the heaven fled away." The present order of creation disappears to prepare the way for a new creation. There is "found no place" for the present "earth and the heaven" in which man has sought to gratify his pride and magnify himself by founding mighty empires and building great cities, enriched and adorned with all that human skill can devise.

But if the scenes in which man's pride has been set forth and his rebellion against God expressed, for ever pass away, we learn that man, himself, remains to answer to God for his rebellion and receive the just reward of his deeds. Thus we learn that the time will come when "the dead small and great" will stand before the throne of judgment.

The figure of the two books would seem to set forth, on the one hand, that the record of all the works of man are known to God, and on the other hand, that God has kept a record of the names of those ordained to life. At this solemn judgment men will be judged, not only on account of their evil works, but because they have rejected Christ and His work (whereby their sins could have been for ever put away) as manifested by the solemn fact that their names are absent from the book of life.

In this solemn scene we are permitted to see the end of all evil and the final doom of every enemy of God, both small and great. The devil is "cast into the lake of fire." Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

19 The Eternal State (Revelation 21:1-8)

While in these mortal bodies it is difficult for us, if not impossible, to conceive of the conditions and full blessedness of the eternal state. It may be for this reason that the references to this state are few and brief,

The Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 3, in one brief verse leads our thoughts to the eternal state, when he writes, "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth." The context clearly shows that these words have no reference to the millennium. In this passage the Apostle speaks of three worlds: Firstly, in verse 6, looking back to the days before the flood, he speaks of "the world that then was," and reminds us that, "being overflowed with water," it perished. Secondly, in verse 7, he speaks of "the heavens and the earth, which are now." Of this present earth he says it is "reserved to fire against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." And he tells us, in that day, "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Thirdly, he reminds us, in verse 13, that "we" — believers — on the assurance of God's promise, "look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness." During millennial days, we read that "A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32:1). In the eternal state, righteousness will dwell. Ruling supposes there is evil to be repressed. In the eternal state there will be no sin to mar the new heavens and the new earth. There everyone will be in right relations with God and with one another, so that it can be truly said righteousness will dwell.

Moreover, the Apostle Paul, in one brief verse — 1 Corinthians 15:28 — looks on to the eternal state. In that passage he shows how Christ must rule until He has put all enemies under His feet. Then, when He shall have put down all rule, all authority, all power, and every enemy, including that last great enemy death, and the great purpose of the millennial reign is accomplished, He will deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father, and we pass to the eternal state when God will be "All in all." God will be all as an Object to fill and satisfy the heart, and will be "in all" that we may perfectly enjoy our relations with God.

Two great truths as to the eternal state are pressed by the Apostle: Firstly, before we enter that state every opposing power, every enemy — even death itself — will have been annulled. So that in the eternal state there will be no fear of the intrusion of an enemy, no fear that death will ever cast its blighting shadow over that fair scene. Secondly, we learn that in the eternal state, Christ, Himself, will be subject to God. Having brought all into subjection to God, He delivers up the kingdom to God, though He, Himself, remains subject to God. Does this not tell us that for all eternity Christ will never cease to be Man, while it is equally true He will never cease to be God — a Divine Person? Even as on earth He was a true Man, and yet one with the Father, so throughout eternity He will be a Man, though never ceasing to be the Son, one with the Father. It was Jesus, Himself, that stood in the midst of His own on the resurrection day; it is Jesus, Himself, that by faith we see at the present moment crowned with glory and honour; and it will be JESUS, HIMSELF, that we shall see face to face, and be with for all eternity.

(V. 1) Coming to Revelation 21:1-8, we have the testimony of the Apostle John to the eternal state. John has seen "all enemies" put under Christ's feet; the final doom of the devil, and "the last enemy" — death — cast into the lake of fire. Every enemy having been annulled, there rises up before him this glorious vision of "a new heaven and a new earth." The new heavens and a new earth, that Peter can say "we look for," John can speak of as having seen, though truly it was but in a vision. In this vision he tells us "there was no more sea." The sea speaks of separation, and how often separation means marred love, blighted hopes, and broken hearts. On earth, sin separates, circumstances separate, age separates, time separates, and above all death is the great separator. So it comes to pass, too often, on earth that the dearest friends are parted, closest relations are divided, families are broken up, and the saints of God scattered. Of all this separation the sea is the symbol. Little wonder that Jeremiah can say there is "sorrow on the sea." But if at times we have to part with loved ones down here we can look on to the blessedness of the eternal state, where there will be no more separations, for there will be "NO MORE SEA."

(V. 2) Then John is permitted to see the special place of the church in the eternal state. At the beginning of the Revelation John had seen the church in its failure on earth. Later, he had seen the church, under the figure of a bride, presented to the Lamb in heaven, all glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Then, carried in spirit beyond the thousand years' reign of Christ, he sees the church coming down from heaven.

He sees, moreover, that the church is "holy" in nature; "new" as being entirely different to the earthly Jerusalem of old, it is "from God" and so entirely divine in origin; it comes "out of heaven," and thus heavenly in character. Though a thousand years have rolled by, the church is still as precious and as beautiful in the eyes of Christ as when first presented to Christ all glorious. Time will not alter the faceless splendour with which Christ has invested His church. For all eternity the church will retain her bridal beauty and preciousness in the eyes of Christ.

(V. 3) As John gazes upon this vision of the church descending from glory, he hears a voice saying, "Behold the tabernacle of God." We are thus reminded that in relation to Christ the church is viewed under the figure of a bride; while in relation to God the church is also viewed as a tabernacle wherein God dwells. Thus the Apostle Paul can say of believers, "ye are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).

It has ever been God's great purpose to dwell with men. This great desire came out in the Garden of Eden, when the Lord God came down to the Garden in the cool of the evening. Alas! sin had defiled that fair Garden and God could no longer dwell with man. Then, on the ground of redemption, God dwelt in a tabernacle in the midst of Israel. Alas! Israel entirely failed to walk in consistency with the presence of God. The nation fell into idolatry, finally rejected Christ, and the Lord has to say, "Your house is left to you desolate." But God does not give up His great purpose, for the church is called out to be the house of God. Alas! as in every other age, the church breaks down, and the breakdown is all the more terrible because of the greater light and privileges granted to the church. At last that which professes to be the church becomes so utterly corrupt that instead of being "an habitation of God through the Spirit," it becomes "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev. 18:2). But how good to learn that no breakdown on the part of man can thwart God in carrying out His purpose, for looking on to the new heaven and the new earth we see, such is the manifold wisdom and power of God that, in spite of all our failure, at last the purpose of God will be fulfilled in a scene where there will never be any breakdown. Three times we read that God will be with men.

"The tabernacle of God is with men."

"He will dwell with them."

"God, Himself, shall be with them."

Let us mark, too, this word "dwell," for it implies home and rest and love. It will be no question of rule, or government, or judgment, for there will be no sin to put down, no enemy to overcome. Hence "God Himself," with no intermediary, such as a Moses or an Elias, "shall be with them, and be their God."

Moreover, it is "men" with whom God will dwell. It will be no longer nations. No national, political, or social distinctions will intrude into this new world. It will be God, Himself, with men, and the men will be His people, and He will be their God. God will "be all in all."

(Vv. 4, 5) When at last God, Himself, dwells with men all the sorrows of this present world will be for ever past, for we read, "God shall wipe away all tears." An old saint of a past century has written, "Christ our Lord in this world wipes the tears from His bairns' faces; yet after that they weep new tears. He never wipes away all tears till now. Here shall be our last 'good night' to death, 'good night' to crying, and mourning and sorrow! We shall be on the other side of the water, and over beyond the black river of death, and shall scorn death; for Christ shall take death and hell and cast them in the prison of fire (Rev. 20:14). And, therefore, never till now shall 'all tears' be wiped away" (S. Rutherford).

Then we read "the former things are passed away," and He that sat upon the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." To-day, the men of the world are trying to get rid of "the former things," and seeking to "make all things new." They can break hearts and fill the earth with death, sorrow, crying, and distress, but they cannot end the sorrows of the world, nor can they "make all things new," or bring in a new order, as they vainly dream.

It is the One that sits upon "the throne" who is above all, and has all power. He alone can cause "the former things" to pass away: He alone can "make all things new."

Then we are reminded that for the fulfilment of all these blessings faith can rest in unquestioning confidence upon the words of the One who sits upon the throne, for "these words are true and faithful."

(Vv. 6-8) The vision of the blessedness of the eternal state is closed with a word of encouragement and solemn warning. Does the unfolding of these coming glories awaken in any soul a sense of need? Then let such hear the gracious announcement, "I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." He that answers to this invitation and turns to Christ, overcoming every hindrance, will inherit all the blessedness of which the vision speaks, and will find that God will be his God and he will be one of God's sons. But we are warned that he that spurns God's invitation will have his part in the lake of fire "which is the second death" — eternal separation from God.

20 The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-22:5)

From Revelation 19:2 we have had an unfolding of great future events that will be introduced by the appearing of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, and carry us on through millennial days to the eternal state.

In the course of the Revelation it is seen now and again that the record of events is interrupted in order to bring before us deeply important truths as to certain persons and events. So in this closing portion, having seen the fulfilment of all God's purpose in the eternal state, we are carried back in thought to learn important details as to the blessedness of the church in relation to the world during millennial days.

(V. 9) One of the seven angels that had the seven vials, that a short time before had shown John the judgment of the great whore, under the figure of the great city Babylon, now comes to talk with the Apostle and unfold to him the glories of "the bride, the Lamb's wife," under the figure of the "holy city Jerusalem."

In one city we see headed up all the long centuries of evil and corruption that have marked professing Christendom, in the other city we see the glorious end of all the trials and sufferings of the true people of God.

Judging by that which is before our eyes, we may be deceived as to the true character of the great profession which is so imposing before the eyes of men, or disheartened by the weakness and reproach which prevails among the people of God. But we are not left to form our own estimate of the evil of that which professes the Name of Christ upon the earth; nor are we left to our own conclusions as to the glory that awaits the true people of God according to the eternal counsels of God.

Through the ministry of the angel we learn that the vast profession, with all its display of riches and power and human wisdom, is in the sight of God but a false woman going on to judgment; while the true people of God, so outwardly weak and insignificant, are passing on to the great day of the marriage of the Lamb, at last to be displayed before the world in all the glory of Christ as "the bride, the Lamb's wife."

We do well to mark these words, for it is not only the church as the bride, that the Apostle sees, but "the bride the Lamb's wife." Only in heaven is the church called the Lamb's wife. On earth, since the day of Pentecost there has been the church composed of true believers, in relation to Christ as His bride (2 Cor. 11:2), but the church is not complete until the rapture, followed by that great day of which it is said, "The marriage of the Lamb is come." Following the day of the marriage, the church will be displayed in all the comeliness that Christ has put upon her as "the bride, the Lamb's wife."

We know from Scripture that God's earthly people Israel are viewed in relation to Christ under the figure of a bride, but, as such, they are the bride of the King; the church is the bride of the Lamb. All saints, earthly or heavenly, will be in relation to Christ on the ground of His death; but the earthly bride will be presented as "the Queen in gold of Ophir" to Christ the King, when through judgment, He will have reached His earthly throne (Ps. 45). To secure His heavenly bride, Christ must indeed take the path of suffering as the Lamb, who "loved the church, and gave Himself for it." Having taken the way of the cross to secure His bride, and having dealt in judgment with the false woman, the church is presented to Christ a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. The marriage of the Lamb takes place before Christ comes forth as King of kings, and Lord of lords to take His earthly throne.

In the beginning of the Revelation we see the church in its utter failure as the responsible witness for Christ on earth. Moreover, we learn that the root of the failure was the loss of bridal affection for Christ. It should have been "like a bride adorned for her husband" waiting for the marriage day. But it failed in affection for Christ, and the Lord has to utter those sad words, "Thou hast left thy first love." The church should have been attached to Christ by "love" and shining before the world as "light." Marked by "love" and "light" it would have been a true witness for Christ. Failing in love to Christ, the Lord has to say, "Repent … or else I will come to thee, and will remove thy candlestick." Having left first love to Christ, the church lost its light before men.

Turning to the end of the Revelation we are permitted to see that, in spite of all its grievous failure, the church will at last be displayed before the world in its true character as "the bride, the Lamb's wife." As the bride the church will be seen in true affection for Christ and will then shine as a light before the world in all the loveliness of Christ. Christ will be glorified in the saints. This, then, is the blessedness of this great Scripture; it sets before us the church according to the heart of Christ. If we catch some glimpse of what Christ will have us to be in the future, we shall begin to learn what Christ would have us to be morally even now.

(Vv. 10, 11) To see this great vision the Apostle John was carried away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain. He is set free from the things of earth to have his mind set on things above. The corruptions of Babylon had been viewed from a wilderness; but the glories of "the holy city, Jerusalem" can only be seen from a "high mountain." To detect and discern evil requires no great moral elevation. The man of the world can go far in condemning the corruptions of Christendom; but the natural mind is wholly incapable of entering into the things of God. Even for true saints, it is only as they are lifted above the things of earth, and walk in separation from the corruptions of Christendom, that they will be able to appreciate the coming glories of "the bride, the Lamb's wife."

From this elevated position there passes before the Apostle the vision of a glorious city. The angel says, "I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife;" actually he sees a city. Clearly, then, this resplendent city is used as a figure to set forth the church in glory.

In the beautiful description that follows we are first permitted to see the character of the city. It is a "holy city;" it descends "out of heaven;" it comes "from God;" it has "the glory of God;" and it is a "shining" city.

Who can fail to see that these are the very characteristics that were displayed in infinite perfection in Christ, Himself, as He passed through this world as the perfect Man? At His birth He is called that "holy thing which shall be born" of Mary. And again, we read, He is "holy harmless, undefiled." Moreover, He can speak of Himself as, "He that came down from heaven" (John 3:13). Then, He can say, "I proceeded forth and came from God" (John 8:42). Further we read of "The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). He too is described as the light that "shines in darkness" (John 1:5).

The very terms that are used to describe the loveliness of Christ are here applied to the church in glory. The church that has so grievously failed to represent Christ in the day of His absence, will at last be displayed in all the beauty of Christ in the day of glory. It will be seen to be "holy" in nature; "heavenly" in character; "of God" as to its origin; setting forth "the glory of God;" and "shining" as a stone most precious to reflect the glory of Christ.

Here, then, we see the church according to the heart of Christ and the eternal counsels of God. Would we learn the blessedness of these counsels, settled before the foundations of the world, we must look on to the coming glory, to see the church displayed in all the loveliness of Christ. In the light of this coming glory the passing glory of this present world becomes very dim, and its highest honours lose their charm. Moreover if we see the character the church is going to wear in glory, we learn what the church should be even now.

(Vv. 12-14) We have seen the marks of the city, setting forth the lovely character of Christ that will be displayed in the church in the day to come. In the verses that follow, there passes before us the walls, the gates, and the foundations of the city, all speaking to us of the security, protection, and stability of the city, reminding us that the church must be kept from the evil of the world if it is to be a testimony to Christ and a blessing to the world. Thus the wall speaks of protection from every enemy, and exclusion of everything unsuited to Christ. The gates speak of the reception of all that is suited to Christ, as well as the outflow of blessing to the world.

In the days of old, when the condition of the people of God had become so evil that the LORD had to bring judgment upon them, the solemn message by Jeremiah was, "I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the LORD; and they shall come and set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about" (Jer. 1:15). So it came to pass, for we read that the enemy came in and "sat in the middle gate," and "brake down the walls of Jerusalem" (Jer. 39:3-8).

As in the days of old, so to-day, professing Christendom has become so corrupt that it is unable to exclude evil, and is no longer a testimony to the world. The walls and the gates are broken down. And with those who seek to answer to the truth in a day of ruin, it will be found that the unceasing attack of the enemy is upon the "walls" and the "gates." How well the enemy knows that if we let down the barriers against that which is contrary to the word, and let in that which is unsuited to Christ, we shall be drawn back into the corruptions of Christendom and cease to be any testimony to the Lord.

In the day of glory no evil will enter the city and there will be nothing to hinder the outflow of blessing to the world. In the city there are three gates on each of the four sides of the city, and the names of the tribes of Israel are found on the gates, surely indicating that blessing through the church will flow out first to Israel and then to every quarter of the earth.

Moreover, at every gate there is an angel. In Scripture we constantly see angels employed as the guardians of God's people, as we read, "The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them" (Ps. 34:7; Acts 12:7-10). Then they are used in executing governmental judgment upon the wicked, as in the case of Herod, of whom we read, "The angel of the Lord smote him" (Acts 12:23). Further, angels are used as the messengers of the Lord between earth and heaven, as the Lord can say, "Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (John 1:51).

So in the millennial day the angels will have a subordinate position in relation to the church, but will still be found at the gates in their guardian character, and ready to act as the messengers of God.

Further, the wall of the city had twelve foundations and in them the names of "the twelve apostles of the Lamb." In Scripture the unique character of the church is carefully maintained by the way it is distinguished from all that went before. Heavenly in its character, it was kept secret since the world began, and its existence on earth is not a development from any earthly kingdom. "In other ages (it) was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets" (Eph. 3:5). Therefore, though the names of the tribes of Israel may be found in the gates, they are not in the foundations. The witness of the church may flow out to the twelve tribes, but the revelation of the church was made to the twelve Apostles. So the Apostle Paul can say, "Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ, Himself, being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20). The unique character of the church may be entirely lost in corrupt professing Christendom, but it will be clearly set forth in the day of glory.

(Vv. 15-17) The measurements of the city follow and prove that the city lies foursquare. Thus the city is tested, for not only are measurements given, but it is "measured," with the result that all is found to be in perfect proportion. To-day, alas, one truth may be presented and another neglected. In the day to come every truth will be set forth in the church in perfect relation to every other truth and thus the church will be perfectly fitted to present Christ before the world.

(Vv. 18-21) In these verses we come to the materials of which the city is built. The walls of jasper; the foundations garnished with precious stones; the gates twelve pearls; and the street pure gold. In Christendom man has built up a vast system that professes the Name of Christ, but into which there has been introduced that which is false, and a denial of His Name — wood, hay, and stubble. Looking on we see in the church in glory nothing but what is real — gold and precious stones.

Already, in the early part of the Revelation jasper has been used to symbolise the glory of God (Rev. 4:3). Now we read that the wall, that excludes all evil, is of jasper and so is a witness to the glory of God. Nothing that comes short of that glory will have part in the glorified church. The church, or company of believers, that ceases to exclude evil will cease to be a witness to God.

"The city was pure gold like to glass." The gold speaks of the divine righteousness in which every believer has part. At present, alas, the practical display of this righteousness is often hindered by the dross of the flesh. In the day of glory there will be only "pure gold." No hidden unworthy motives will ever mar our practice or lurk beneath our words. Nothing will dim the fine gold, it will be "like to clear glass."

The foundations, garnished with precious stones, would seem to symbolise the all varied perfections of Christ. The source of light is found in God and the Lamb, but the stones reflect the light and thus display the glories of Christ before the world.

The pearl, we know from the Lord's own words, is used to set forth the preciousness of the church in His sight (Matt. 13:46). Thus, when we read that "every several gate was of one pearl" we are assured that in the day of glory there will be the setting forth, to every quarter of the world, the unity of the church as well as the preciousness of the church in the eyes of Christ.

Moreover, the street of pure gold reminds us that in the church in glory there will be nothing to defile our walk, and therefore no need for the girded loins. Further, there will be nothing to hide from one another, for the street will not only be pure gold but it will be "as it were transparent glass."

(Vv. 22, 23) The spring and source of all blessing in this glorious city is that therein God is fully revealed. There is no temple in which God is hidden behind a veil. The whole city is filled with the glory of God revealed in Christ, for we read, "the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the lamp thereof" (N. Tr.). Christ will ever be the One in whom God is revealed; moreover, He is presented as the Lamb for, as such, He not only declares the glory of God but fits His people for the glory. The sun and the moon had indeed, in their season declared the glory of God in His handiwork (Ps. 19); but in the church in glory the everlasting witness to the glory of God will be found in the Lamb.

(Vv. 24-27) From these verses we learn the relation of the church in glory to the millennial earth. The church was left in this world to shine as a light for Christ in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Alas! failing in its bridal affection for Christ, it has ceased to set Him forth before the world. The love failed and the light went out. But when this day of glory dawns the church is seen in its bridal affection for Christ, and as a light before the world. The Lamb who is the light of the city will shine through the church before the world. Christ will be glorified in the saints. Moreover, the church will be the witness of the riches of God's grace according to that word, "That in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). Learning of Christ and of the grace of God through the light of the city, the kings of the earth will bring their glory to it, thus doing homage to the One who is the light of the city.

Moreover, the blessing that will stream through the city to the nations will be unceasing, for the gates will not be shut at all by day; and no shade of darkness will ever obscure the light, for there will be no night there. Further, if light and blessing pass through the gates to the world, we are assured that "there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles." Today, under the plea of carrying blessing to the world, we may become defiled by the world. In the day of glory the world will receive blessing through the church, and the church will be unsullied by the world.

(Revelation 22:1-2) We have seen that only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life will enter the city. Now we learn the everlasting provision for the sustainment of the life. The life of believers is indeed eternal life, but none the less it is a dependent life; it is not life apart from Christ. "The river" and "the tree" are symbols that very blessedly bring Christ before our souls. Further, they speak of Christ in connection with "life," for the river is the "river of water of life," and the tree is "the tree of life." Christ is not only the fountain of life through whom we receive life, according to His own touching words, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely," but, as the river of life He is the One that sustains the life He gives. So the Apostle Paul can say, "Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). The new life is sustained by Christ in all His wondrous love as the object before the soul. Alas! it may be but feebly that we keep our eyes on Christ, and thus feebly live the new life we have. In the day of glory the new life will be sustained and enjoyed to the full as, without let or hindrance, we shall have Christ before the soul and thus drink of the river of water of life. Thus we can say,

Oh, Christ! He is the fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I've tasted,
More deep I'll drink above.

Moreover, the river of life is "clear as crystal." Any little reflection of Christ seen in one another will help to sustain the new life; but, in ourselves, the stream is often fouled and muddied with the things of earth, and hence reflects little of the loveliness of Christ. In Christ the river of water of life is "clear as crystal." "He is altogether lovely."

The river proceeds from "the throne of God and of the Lamb." God is the blessed source of this life, for it is the "eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began." But it comes to us through Christ as the Lamb — the One who was "lifted up that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Moreover, if the life in us is a dependent life, it is also a fruitful life. If Christ is the river of life from which we drink to sustain life, He is also the tree of life on which we feed in order that our lives may be fruitful. Even now, if like the bride of the Song, we sit down under His shadow, we shall find His fruit sweet to our taste, and abiding in His love we shall bear fruit as in our little measure we reflect His excellencies.

In the day of glory there will be nothing to hinder our souls delight in feeding on Christ. No longer will there be "Cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life," for the tree will be "in the midst of the street," open and free to all in that fair city. The fruit, too, is not only free; it is always available, for the tree of life "yielded her fruit every month."

Thus, as we look on to this glorious city, we see that it is God's eternal purpose that the saints shall find in Christ the One that sustains life, and makes the life beautiful with the comeliness that He has put upon us. If this is His purpose for us in glory, it is His desire for us even now. Alas! it is little we may drink of the water of life now, or feed upon the tree of life, but very soon it will be our eternal portion to

Drink of life's perennial river,
Feed on life's perennial food,
Christ the fruit of life and Giver —
Safe through His redeeming blood.

Further, we learn that "the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." The church in glory, beyond all her sorrows, will enjoy the fruit of the tree of life. But on earth the nations will have passed through the sorrows of the tribulation that will come upon all the world. The One that brings fruit to the church will bring healing to the nations, for "He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds" (Ps. 147:3).

(Vv. 3-5) Looking back to the Garden of Eden we remember that the tree of life was there, and "a river went out of Eden to water the garden," and God came down to walk with man in that fair scene. Alas! man had sinned, and God could not dwell with man; the way of the tree of life was barred, and the curse was over all. Looking on we are permitted to see this vision of the church in glory, and find again the tree, and the river, and free to all, for there will be no more curse.

The curse being for ever removed, the purpose of God to dwell in the midst of His people can be fulfilled. Thus we read, "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it." Moreover, the glorified saints will delight to serve the One that dwells in their midst. In their passage through time, poor and unprofitable servants they may have been; in the coming glory, set free from every unworthy motive, they will serve Him with singleness of purpose and devotedness of heart.

At last, in all the nearness and intimacy of His presence they will see His face, and His Name shall be in their foreheads. They will see His beauty and, looking upon the redeemed, He will see His own glorious character reflected in their faces. Even now, as by faith we behold the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image from glory to glory; but when, at last, faith is changed to sight, and we see Him face to face, we shall be altogether conformed to His image. We shall see His face, and He will be seen in our faces.

To look within and see no stain
Abroad no curse to trace:
To shed no tears, to feel no pain
But see Him face to face.

Further, we read, "There shall be no night there." Now our gaze is often obscured by the mists of earth — "we see through a glass darkly;" but when at last we see Him "face to face," the darkness will be past, for there shall be no night there, and we shall know even as we are known. Our knowledge will not be the result of any artificial aids, nor flow from natural sources. We shall need "no candle neither light of the sun," for the source of all the light in that glorious day will be in the Lord God Himself.

Moreover, to the eternal ages, the church will be associated with Christ, for we read, "They shall reign for ever and ever."

God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts, for ever share
The unveiled mystery.

21 The Closing Exhortations (Revelation 22:6-21)

(Vv. 6, 7) In the closing verses of the Revelation we have not only the formal conclusion of the prophecy but the fitting conclusion of the whole Word of God. In many Scriptures the principle is asserted that "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor. 13:1). To strengthen faith, and rebuke unbelief, we have in these closing verses a threefold witness to "the sayings of the prophecy of this book." The angel says, "These sayings are faithful and true" (6); the Apostle says, "I, John, saw these things and heard them" (8); the Lord, Himself, says, "I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify to you these things in the churches" (16). How serious then to reject, or neglect, the sayings of this book. It means, not only indifference to angelic testimony and apostolic witness, but that the testimony of Jesus, Himself, is ignored.

If then it is so solemn to neglect the great truths of the Revelation, what, we may ask, will lead to the sayings of this book being treasured in the heart? The answer is plain. It is only as our souls are in the faith and enjoyment of the great truth of the coming of the Lord that we shall value the sayings of this prophecy. None will rightly interpret the Revelation unless they believe in, and cherish, the truth of the second coming of Christ. This great truth is the central fact of the Book of Revelation. The opening verses assert this truth, "Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him" (Rev. 1:7). In the course of the book this great truth is again and again kept before us, and, finally, in these closing verses we have a threefold presentation of the Lord's coming (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). The Revelation unfolds to us events that will precede His coming; it instructs us as to the manner of His coming, and reveals to us the solemn and glorious events that will follow His coming. Cherishing the hope of His return, every event that precedes or follows His coming will have for us the deepest interest. Thus, in verse 7, the coming of Christ and the sayings of the prophecy are closely linked together.

(Vv. 8, 9) Further, in these concluding verses we see that the proper effect of these prophecies on the soul of the believer is to lead to a spirit of worship. Thus the Apostle says, "I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship." He had seen the Lord in His glory in the midst of the churches in ruin on earth, and he had seen the Lamb in the midst of the glorified saints in heaven. He had been carried into a wilderness to see the judgment of the great city Babylon, and he had been carried to a high mountain to see the glories of the holy city, Jerusalem. He had seen the judgment of the nations at the coming of Christ, and he had seen the judgment of the dead at the great white throne. He had looked into eternity and seen the new heaven and the new earth, where all tears will be wiped away, and there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. He had heard heaven and earth join to celebrate the glories of the Lamb, and he heard all heaven rejoice at the marriage of the Lamb. Can we wonder then that, having seen such sights, and heard such sounds, he should fall down and worship? It is true that he worshipped at the feet of the wrong person, but he did the right thing. The object of worship must ever be, not the angelic messenger that tells us of these wondrous things, but the One who sends the messenger and who alone can bring these mighty events to pass. Thus the word of the angel is, "Worship God."

(Vv. 10, 11) A word of warning follows. We are not to seal the sayings of the prophecy of this book, as if the events foretold referred to some far distant age. Already we have been told that the angel was sent by the Lord "to shew to His servants the things which must shortly be done" (6); now we are told that "The time is at hand" — the time when all these solemnities and glories that John had seen in vision will be fulfilled in fact. When this time comes, the condition of every one will be fixed. The unjust will be unjust still; the filthy will be filthy still; the righteous will be righteous still; the holy will be holy still. The filthy will never become holy; the holy will never become filthy. Now, indeed, it is the day of grace when the filthy can have all their filthiness washed away; but here we look into eternity where the condition of all will be fixed.

(Vv. 12, 13) The word of warning is followed by a word of encouragement. Not only the "time" is at hand, but the Lord, Himself, is at hand, for His words are, "Behold, I come quickly." Already, in these closing verses, the Lord's coming has been brought before us to encourage us to cherish the words of this prophecy. Now His coming is presented to encourage us to continue in His blessed service in the midst of the increasing difficulties of the last days. Thus we hear the Lord say, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me."

It is possible to make a great religious profession with the object of gaining the applause of men. Of such the Lord can say, "They have their reward" (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16); but it is not Christ's reward, and it is a reward without Christ, for, says the Lord, "My reward is with Me." To enjoy Christ's reward we must wait Christ's return. What an encouragement to quietly continue in the Lord's service, in obscurity, it may be, and unknown by men, and possibly little appreciated by the people of God. Nevertheless, all is under the eye of the Lord. He knows, He will not forget, and when He comes every little act for Him, every little sacrifice for Him, every cup of cold water given for His Name's sake, will have its bright reward; but it will be "with Him."

As ever, in Scripture, the reward is set before us, not as an object, but as encouragement to endure in the midst of suffering and opposition. When the Lord was here there were those who followed Him for the loaves and fishes; but in the same chapter we read, they "went back and walked no more with Him" (John 6:26, 66). It is Christ alone that can hold our affections and become the object of all true service. As one has said, "Rewards will follow by and by, but saints follow not the rewards but the Lord."

Further, we are reminded of the glories of the One who is coming, and that we seek to follow and serve. He is One who can say, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." As the Alpha and Omega He is the Word — the One who is the full revelation of God. As "the beginning and the end," He is the Creator by whom "all things were made," who can dissolve the things that He has made, and bring in the "new heavens and a new earth." As "the first and the last" He is the eternal God before all created things. So the Lord can say through Isaiah, "I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6).

(Vv. 14, 15) If, however, every work for the Lord's sake will have its reward, we are reminded that no works that we have done will give any right to the tree of life or entrance into the holy city. To be within the circle of eternal blessing, to enjoy Christ as the tree of life in life's eternal home, the soul must be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Thus the angel can say, "Blessed are they that wash their robes" (N. Tr.).

We are then warned that though it is glorious to "enter in through the gates of the city," it is intensely solemn to be "without." Those inside the city will be in the presence of the Lamb and have the company of the redeemed who have washed their robes, and "there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie." Outside that circle of blessing there will only be the company of "dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie."

(V. 16) The angel has delivered his message, and now at last the Lord, Himself, speaks. The solemn scenes of judgment, the coming glories of the heavenly city, the blessedness of the millennial reign, the perfect bliss of the new heaven and the new earth, have all passed before us, but at last we are left alone with the One upon whom all depends — we are alone with JESUS. The One who can say, "I Jesus" has the last word. Angels have spoken, elders have spoken, trumpets have sounded, the voice of great multitudes have been heard and the sound of mighty thunderings, but at length all give place to the One who is above all — the voice of Jesus is heard.

As the wonders of this book are unrolled we have Christ presented in His glories and dignities, as the Faithful and the True, the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, as the Alpha and Omega, and the beginning and the end — titles, indeed, that impress us with His worthiness and majesty — but in this closing scene He presents Himself under the Name which thrills our hearts and calls forth our affections — the Name that is above every name, the Name of JESUS. With this name He came into the world, for at His birth we read, "Thou shalt call His name JESUS." With this name He went out of the world, for over His cross we read, "This is JESUS." With this name He ascended to glory, for the angels said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you to heaven shall so come in like manner." Under this name we look up to Him in the glory, for, says the Apostle, "We see Jesus … crowned with glory and honour." And under this name He speaks to us from the glory, as He says, "I Jesus." We have untold glories and blessedness in prospect, but in the present we are in a wilderness scene alone with One who presents Himself so tenderly as "I Jesus."

Further, this blessed One recalls our hearts to all that He is, as the heavenly Man. What can be more important, or more blessed, than to have a living Person before our souls — Jesus where He is, and Jesus as He is? On earth He was despised and rejected of men, from the glory He can say, "I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."

Firstly, the Lord can say, "I am the root … of David." Had He been only the offspring of David, then that could have been said of Solomon. But Jesus alone could be the root of David. The root is the hidden source of life. Christ is the source of spiritual life for every saint of God and the blessing is sure because the root is perfect. Job can say, "There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again … though the root thereof wax old in the earth … yet through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs" (Job 14:7-9). Israel has indeed failed; the tree has been windswept and tempest-torn amongst the nations, but the root remains, and hence Israel will again bud and bring forth branches. So Scripture can speak of the sure mercies of David, for Christ is the root of David.

Secondly, Jesus is also "the offspring of David." If He is the source of all as Root, He is the inheritor of all as the Offspring. He is of the royal line and, as the Son of David, He is God's King to establish God's kingdom. The heathen may rage and the people imagine a vain thing. To-day we see that in their folly the powers of this world think that they can get rid of God, and God's King, and thus seize the inheritance of this world and set up a kingdom in which man can gratify his own lusts without any restraint from God. To this evil end they may set themselves and take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed. Nevertheless God can say, "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Men nail Jesus to a cross, God sets Jesus as the King of kings upon the throne, and all who will not submit to God's King will "perish from the way" (Ps. 2).

Thirdly, Jesus is "the bright and morning star." As such He is presented in relation to the church. Others will know Him in all His kingly glory as the root and offspring of David; the world will know Him as the Sun of righteousness that will arise to chase the darkness away, and bring healing to this sorrow-stricken world, but only the church will know Him as "the bright and morning star." When the sun shines the stars cannot be seen. He has not yet arisen above the horizon of this dark world as the Sun of righteousness, but while it is yet night He is known in the heart of the believer as the bright and morning star.

Two other Scriptures present Christ as the morning star. The Apostle Peter writes, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy: whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light (or 'lamp') that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). Prophecy is a light in the darkness; Christ is the star of the day. It is true that both shine in the darkness but there is this difference between the lamp and the morning star: the lamp tells me the darkness is here; the star tells me the day is coming. Prophecy warns us as to the condition of the world around, and the judgments to which it is hastening and, as the Apostle says, we do well to take heed to it. Thus the effect of prophecy is to close up all our hopes of this present age and to centre our hopes in Christ. He is seen to be the coming One, and when our affections are drawn out to Christ as the centre of all our hopes then, indeed, it can be said that the day star has arisen in our hearts.

Then again, in the address to Thyatira, the Lord can say to the overcomer, "I will give him the morning star" (Rev. 2:28). The Lord can also say to the overcomer, "To him will I give power over the nations." But if He holds out the reward of power in the future, He also gives the overcomer a portion for his heart in the present. Amidst the moral and spiritual darkness of Thyatira the overcomer will enjoy Christ known in his heart as the star of the coming day.

In this closing scene Christ is presented not only as the morning star but as "the bright and morning star." Everything in the hands of man loses its lustre, but Christ, in the heavens, is beyond the touch of man's rude hand. He shines with undimmed lustre; He is the bright and morning star. With the day star in our hearts we can watch through the darkness of the night and wait for the coming glory — the morning without clouds.

It is significant that Christ is not revealed as the morning star until the ruin of Christendom had set in. When the Apostle Peter wrote his second epistle the dark shadow of apostasy was already creeping over the Christian profession. False prophets were arising who would deny the Lord that bought them, and many would follow their pernicious ways, and the way of truth would be evil spoken of. The Apostle holds out no hope of improvement, no prospect of the restoration of the fallen profession. But the day star had arisen in his heart, and thus he looked beyond the darkness to the coming day. His hopes were centred in Christ.

(V. 17) Immediately after this touching presentation of Christ the church again comes into view as the bride of Christ. The knowledge of the ruin of the church in the hands of men will not make us indifferent to the church according to the counsels of God, under the control of the Spirit. Indifference to the church as the bride would be indifference to that which, in this world, is nearest and dearest to the heart of Christ. In Christ we see that God has purposed to give us an object that can satisfy our hearts; but in the church, as the bride, we see what is yet more wonderful, that He has purposed to present the church to Christ as an object suited to Him, worthy of His love, and for the satisfaction of His heart.

With this great truth the Book of Genesis opens. Before sin came in, God sets forth, in Eve being presented to Adam, the great secret of His heart to have an object suited for the love of Christ. Throughout the ages and all the changing scenes of time, God has never given up His great purpose. In spite of the power of Satan, the evil of man, and the ruin of the Christian profession, God holds on His majestic way, that rising above every opposing power, fulfils His purpose and secures an object for the heart of Christ. Thus at the close of His book the bride of the Lamb rises up before our vision.

How blessed this last view of the bride, for here she is seen at the end of her wilderness journey, wholly under the control of the Spirit, and thus with Christ as her one object. The result is the "Spirit and the bride say, Come." Led by the Spirit we feel the desolation that sin has caused in the world around, and we groan, and led by the Spirit we look to Christ as the bright and morning star who will usher in the morning without clouds, and hush creation's groan, and we say, "Come."

Then let us mark what follows. Under the control of the Spirit, and thus in right relations with Christ, the church is ready to bear witness for Christ to others. The desire for His coming will not hinder our witness to the world around. On the contrary, it becomes the most powerful motive for desiring the blessing of others. We are never so morally fitted to stay and bear witness for Christ as when in affection we are longing to go and be with Christ.

This witness will first go out to those who "hear." To such the testimony is, "Let him that hears say, Come." The fact that they "hear" would seem to indicate that they are true believers. The fact that they have to be told to say "come" would show that they are not in the conscious joy of their relationship to Christ as His bride.

Secondly, the witness goes to those who are "athirst." There are needy souls having some sense of their need longing to have part in the blessings that Christ can bestow, yet, it may be doubting the grace of His heart and His power and willingness to save. But the bride knows the heart of Christ and to such she can say "Come," you are welcome to Christ; "Let him that is athirst come."

Lastly, there is the world around careless of its condition and heedless of its doom. But the grace of God carries with it salvation for all, and the church having tasted this grace can say, "Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." How touching it is that the last appeal from Christ in the glory is a gospel appeal to a needy world, and let us mark well how full and how wide is the appeal. As one has said, "There is no man in the world to whom Jesus does not appeal. He gave Himself a ransom for all and therefore He has the right to appeal to every man, whoever he may be, 'Let him take the water of life freely.' Whoever will may come and drink of living water without money and without price."

(Vv. 18-21) Following upon the solemn warning as to adding to, or taking from, the words of the prophecy of this book, we have, for a third time in these closing verses, the Lord's promise that He is "coming quickly." The first occasion presents His coming as an incentive to keeping the sayings of this prophecy (7); the second occasion, His coming is presented in connection with His rewards to encourage us in our service (12). On this last occasion we lose sight of prophecy, and service, and rewards, and think only of Himself, "Surely I come quickly." The other occasions call forth no response, but now the bride responds, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." The closing word tells us that, until that blessed moment we can count upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with all the saints. Amen.