Revelation 5:13; Revelation 10:7.

J. A. Trench.

Article 31 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.

It is the way of the Holy Spirit in this prophetic book to carry us on here and there to the finish in God's purpose before opening out the definite course of things necessary to bring it about. This is a gracious way, and calculated to lead into increased intelligence of what God is about in His actings and orderings. Thus Rev. 4 and Rev. 5 bring us to the full result, in kingdom-blessing, of the judgments, at first providential and in ever-increasing intensity under the seals, trumpets, and vials, and then by the Lord coming from heaven to execute the last stroke of them in person. By these judgments the scene will be cleared for the manifestation of His glory; and this, too, on the occasion of the Lamb's title to the inheritance of all things having been owned in the first part of chapter 5. You are undoubtedly right in seeing representatively in the twenty-four elders all who are Christ's at His coming, including the saints of the Church period. These are the nearest circle round the throne, and the Lamb in the midst of it. In Rev. 4:4 they are enthroned around the throne of glory, with priestly garments and royal crowns, which they cast before the throne when the Creatorship glory of Him who sat on it is proclaimed. Here they sing a new song, clearly showing who they are, of redemptive glory: "Thou art worthy to take the book [or roll], and open the seals thereof: for thou want slain, and hast redeemed to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made them unto our God kings and priests, and they shall reign over the earth." In verses 11, 12, angels in outer circles add their special ascription of glory to the Lamb that was slain, though not able to speak of redemption as we can, while in verse 13 the whole creation is brought in saying, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." It is the glad anticipation of the whole universe ordered around the Lamb, as slain, as its centre and ground of blessing.

What has been noted above as to what is characteristic of the book settles also the question as to the Church going through the tribulation. Its earthly history closes in Rev. 2, 3. The saints of it have their place thenceforward in heavenly glory. Besides the express promise to those of Philadelphia (Rev. 3:10), which cannot leave out any true saint when its fulfilment comes, of being kept out of the hour, which shall come upon the whole habitable world to try the dwellers upon earth. In Rev. 7 a parenthesis arrests the progress of the seals, between the sixth and seventh, to bring in the sealed remnant of all the tribes of Israel, and the innumerable multitude of the nations who will be blessed through the Gospel of the Kingdom, which as we know from Matthew 24:14, will go out to them before the end comes. They, indeed, come out of the great tribulation, and again the prophecy leads on to their blessed position in the kingdom, who along with those preserved of Israel will form the subjects of it — not reign as the heavenly saints in Rev. 5.

The mystery in Revelation 10:7, must in no way be connected with that which formed Paul's ministry so largely, i.e. the heading up of all things in Christ of which the present aspect is that He is given to be head over all things to the Church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. (Eph. 1, 3; Col. 1, 2). There are other mysteries, as that of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), and lawlessness. (2 Thess. 2:7) In Revelation it is that passiveness of God that permits evil to go on and prosper that would be a still greater mystery if we did not know by revelation that the time of His keeping silence, as He speaks in Psalm 50, and of His non-intervention will come to an end. Here it does so in the prophecy, "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel," the last of the woe trumpets, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God will be finished. Henceforward it will be the time of His direct power being manifested. See Rev. 11:15-17, and the summary of the far-reaching consequences in verse 18.