Part One: Judgment (chapters 7-10)

Chapter VII
Locusts And Hellish Horsemen

Revelation 9

We have now the sounding of trumpets of the fifth and sixth angels in Revelation 9, with their fearsome following effects upon men.

The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the shaft (Greek, phrear, as in John 4:11, “The well is deep”) of the abyss.

That there is a passage from the earth to its heart not only is indicated by Scripture, but was believed by the ancient Greeks, and is today known to the followers of Satan. In Revelation 20:1-3 we find Satan himself cast down there, and the passage sealed for 1000 years. In this latter passage, “an angel coming down out of heaven” has the key of the abyss. In Revelation 9:1 it is a “fallen” one of those beings so often called stars (e.g., Daniel 8:10, 24; Isaiah 14:12) to whom is given the key of the shaft of the abyss. We know from our Lord’s words in Revelation 1:18 that He has Himself “the keys of death and of Hades.” Inasmuch as the word “abyss” describes the region, and Hades (literally “the unseen”) describes the state or class of beings—spirits who go there—we judge both words refer to “the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). For our Lord, we know, during that three days was in the Old Testament Sheol, which is the New Testament Hades. (Compare Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2:25-31—both R. V., for the King James version is quite confusing in its varied translations of Sheol and Hades.) In Romans 10:7 also, Paul shows that to bring our Lord up from the dead, was to “descend into the abyss.”

And he opened the shaft of the abyss; and there went up smoke out of the shaft, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the shaft.

Now if we should read of the eruption of a great volcano darkening the sky for thousands of miles, we would believe it to be physical smoke and literal darkness. Such phenomena have actually occurred, as may be found upon consulting any physical geography.

So we shall proceed to believe that God’s Word is as true as are man’s records, and we shall have no trouble in considering this smoke and consequent darkening just as literal as the words express them to be.

When we remember that The Revelation is not a sealed book, we shall have no difficulty in regarding the locusts that God says will proceed from this smoke, as actual locusts. In Exodus 10 we are told concerning the plague of locusts in Egypt that they were such “as neither thy fathers nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day.” “Before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.”

Now no one who believes the Bible has any trouble believing the record of that past plague. Nor has any one any right to have any difficulty about the terrible locust plague of Revelation 9. It is because of the fog of unbelief, and the super-fog of “historical interpretation,” that this passage has been considered “hard to understand.” If we do not believe that God means what He so plainly and explicitly says in Revelation 9, let us say we do not believe it, and be honest. But let us not dare to bring in vain imaginations and call them interpretations of Scripture. (As, for example, the grotesque and absurd notion that the “hair as the hair of women” [9:8] was fulfilled in the horse-tails tied by the Saracens to their spears!) Remember that we are reading from Revelation 4 onward “the things that must come to pass” after the present Church period. See Revelation 1:19, where the Lord Himself makes the division; and compare it with 4:1 where He carries it forward. It preens our pride to point as wise ones to this or that in Church history, and say, “There was the fulfilment of, for example, this locust army.” But the trouble is, that denies what Christ said about this part of the book, namely, that it was to be fulfilled after Church times and Church history are closed.

Out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

Then follows the command of the Creator of these creatures, reversing utterly their habits as to manner of food! They are directed not to hurt the grass, nor green things, nor trees (the natural food of locusts until then) “but only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads”!

Five months (the natural life-period of locusts) is assigned them to “torment men.” Down in Egypt (the plagues of which throw great light on the earth-plagues of Revelation), God “put a difference” (Hebrew—set redemption) between His people Israel, and the Egyptians (See Exodus 8:22; 9:4,6,26; 10:23). God will do likewise when these terrible visitations are again in the earth. Whatever persecutions the saints of those days may endure from men, they will have constant miraculous evidence that their God is not against them!

Their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man. The writer was once struck on the heel by a small scorpion, and the unrelievable, indescribable anguish extended clear to the head. Of course we are simply to believe Revelation 9:5. To seek to twist it from its natural sense is wickedness: for unbelief is wickedness!

In those days men shall seek death, and shall in no wise find it. We remember one who was dragged years ago from the Chicago river, after attempted suicide, crying, “Oh, let me drown! I cannot face another day!” Now God does not tell us by what means men shall in this terrible time be kept back from the longed-for oblivion of physical death: but He does reveal that they shall seek it and not find it. This giddy, pleasure-mad age little realizes to what extremities of trouble it is fast hastening. And if, dear reader, you should die without Christ, before these judgments from God set in, it would be only to enter the dark gates of Hades (in the center of this earth), to be kept there till the judgment of the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11-15; for the Word of God must be fulfilled.

Now, further regarding these locusts, a detailed description is given in verses 7-10. Their aspect will be truly terrible. I have seen an onslaught of white hornets, whose nest has been disturbed, drive men frantic before them. How much more these fearsome creatures! “Shapes … like unto horses prepared for war.” Faces like humans—horrible! Crowns on their heads—as God’s avengers. Teeth like lions’, breastplates like iron, wings like a thousand rushing war-chariots. Stinging tails like those of scorpions—is not this a horrid host! God once promised to send the hornet to drive out His people’s foes (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20). Probably there were “wise ones” also in those days who said, “The Lord does not mean literal hornets; but some terrifying thoughts sent into the Canaanites.” But Jehovah tells us in Joshua 24:12: “I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you.” It is utterly amazing to confront, even in commentaries by excellent men, complete disbelief that these will be literal locusts, though God takes such pains to say explicitly that they will be just that! So we will believe Him, and be thankful that the Church will not be here at that time; and that the other sealed ones, God’s own, will be secure from their terrifying attacks.

They have over them as king the angel of the abyss: his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek tongue he hath the name Apollyon.

Of ordinary locusts, the Word of God says, “the locusts have no king” (Proverbs 30:27). But of this devastating judgment a grim leader is seen—revealed but this once in Scripture. This is evidently not Satan; as he is nowhere connected with “the abyss” till he is cast therein in Revelation 20:1-3. He walks up and down in the earth and accuses the saints before God, in heaven (Job 1, 1 Peter 5, Revelation 12).

Abaddon means destruction, in the Hebrew; but the Greek, Apollyon, is destroyer.

Perhaps, just as Satan has “the power of death” (Hebrews 2), so this angel of the abyss has the doleful power and authority to execute on creatures the effects of death that give him his name! So he heads this army of judgment-bearing, tormenting locusts, which, we read in Revelation 9:12, constitutes the first Woe.

The first Woe is past: behold, there come yet two Woes after these things.

And the sixth angel sounded.

I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar which is before God.58

One saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, that had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill the third part of men. And the number of the armies of the horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand: I heard the number of them.

How little the nations that are seeking just now to restore Mesopotamia to its ancient fertility (foremost among these being England) realize that they are working in the immediate region of four of Satan’s most powerful princes, which are bound there for a special purpose! (See 2 Peter 2:4, where we read of certain angels, probably those of Genesis 6, as cast down to Tartarus,— perhaps the lowest part of the abyss, and committed to pits or chains of darkness.) Most of Satan’s angels are yet free—being the principalities against which we wrestle (Ephesians 6), but some terrible offenders of high rank have been bound. These four angels have this ominous destiny: they “had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill the third part of men.” Some think that this designation of time is intended to set forth thirteen months; a year plus a month, plus a day and an hour. But this seems to be straining the meaning of the passage, and not to be in accord with the spirit of it: for it is the object of the chaining of these angels, not the duration of their infliction upon men, that is in view. They have been prepared for this particular moment—chained there until this command from the golden altar.

Attention has been abundantly called by commentators to the region of the Euphrates as that place where human sin began and also Satan’s empire over man; where the first murder was committed; where the first war confederacy was made (Genesis 14); and back of this it is where Nimrod began to be “a mighty one in the earth,” and where the vast system of Babylonian idolatry, with its trinity of evil—“father, mother and son” originated, to deceive the whole world by the Satanic fable of “the queen of heaven.” Here, moreover, as we saw in Zechariah 5, iniquity is to have its last stage on earth (see “Revelation 18 also).

The two hundred million horsemen whose number John heard are not human beings at all. It is so belittling to Scripture to treat it as if its words were not definite. It blinds the mind to the whole force of the coming chapters of Revelation, to accept such foolish notions as those of the historicists (that is, those who apply these chapters to what has already taken place during Church history) bring forth here. John plainly declares,

I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates as of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone: and the heads of the horses are as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceedeth fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three plagues was the third part of men killed, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceedeth out of their mouths. Here God goes into descriptive detail. Believe, and you scarcely need any comment. Every one knows what fire and smoke and brimstone are. The only trouble is to believe that God would (of course He could) turn loose such horrific agents against men on earth.

To doubt that this is fire and smoke and brimstone in chapter 9, is to proceed to doubt whether the lake of fire is literal fire burning with brimstone. Doubt as to this has already spread through Christendom. Yet it must be literal—there is no possible escape if we believe the Bible true at all!

In Genesis 19, we read in verse 24, “Then Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Jehovah: (do you believe Abraham was a literal man?) and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah (they were literal cities), and toward all the land of the Plain (it lies there yet, covered by the Dead Sea), and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Do you believe this record to be an inspired statement of what Abraham actually saw? Why then do you seek to reject in Revelation what you accept in Genesis?

In Revelation 14:10 and 11, we read that certain men will be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (If you do not believe in the actual existence of angels you are a Sadducee and an infidel. You might as well confess you do not believe in the risen Lamb of God.) “And the smoke of their torment goeth up unto ages of ages.”

Again, you find in Revelation 20:10, that the first Beast and the false prophet have been in “the lake of fire and brimstone” for 1000 years, and are not annihilated, and then that the Devil is cast therein. Do you realize that to claim that you do not believe in literal fire and literal brimstone, but believe in something more awful than this, is just silly nonsense?

It becomes necessary to contemplate deeply and with absolute faith the visitations that destroy the third part of the earth’s remaining population (a fourth having been slain under the fourth seal of 6:8). One-half of the population of the earth has been removed. Thus, at the low estimate of 1,600,000,000,400,000,000 were slain in chapter 6, and a third of the rest, or 400,000,000 more in chapter 9.

The prophecies concerning the decimation of earth’s population prior to the bringing in of the kingdom (that is, the Millennium), we shall see thus gradually fulfilled in these preliminary judgments,—of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls of wrath,—before “the great and terrible day of the Lord” of Revelation 19:11-16; when the Lord as King of kings will tread “the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty”: with the results seen in 19:17, 18.

Now in Revelation 9 these hellish horsemen, which are literal and which are certainly coming, belch forth on this earth fire and smoke and brimstone; “which proceeded out of their mouths.” It is idle to talk about this being “a figure of false doctrine”! When God desires to tell of certain “spirits of demons going forth to deceive the earth” for Armageddon, He is able to describe them perfectly in Revelation 16:13, 14. And when God speaks of fire and smoke and brimstone, He means what He says.59

We are compelled therefore to envisage untold future horrors to come upon this earth, even before that Great Day of Wrath when our Lord personally comes in chapter 19:11-15. A third part of the humanity remaining (after one-fourth of the whole had been destroyed under the fourth seal) are now killed. This is physical death. They are removed in judgment from the earth. What awful days they will be when one third of earth’s remaining population will be slain by this foretaste of the pit, the fire and smoke and the brimstone, proceeding from the mouths of these dread horsemen! Also those not killed, according to verse 19, may be smitten into torment with the tails of these horses, which are “like unto serpents, and have heads; and with them they hurt.”

This is a taste of hell on earth that is coming. One of every three humans left on earth succumbs to its fury.

Yet, when we come to Revelation 13, to the strong delusion of the worship of the Beast, and through him of the Devil, the destruction will be greater yet!

Now read Revelation 9:20, 21—the end of our chapter. We must remember that the inhabitants of the earth are already in our day far gone in utter rebellion and impenitence: what wonder then that such terrible infliction as these horsemen of hell, which we shall now consider, come upon the condition of hardened iniquity described in the closing verses of chapter 9.

And the rest of mankind who were not killed with these plagues repented not of the works of their hands that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk: and they repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

We see here the two tables of God’s holy law set at naught by the impenitent. First, in demon-worship—and who knows how far this has progressed in our day! Take Chicago: Arriving in this city at the close of 1893, (the former World’s Fair) I found nearly two pages of the Saturday issue of the newspaper were taken up with announcement of services at the various churches, and the sermons were generally on solemn subjects by godly men. In 1935, four or five announcements, at most a half a dozen, invited to places where one’s soul would be safe to attend; while the announcements of Spiritualists, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Unity followers, etc.—those cults that have direct traffic with Satan—ran into the scores. (Six orthodox, against 75 Satanic, in the Chicago Daily News of November 14, 1931.)

Next idolatry—literal idols that are coming fast into Christendom again, and that not only in Romish (Jezebel) circles, but among “Protestants,” both in England and in this country. Moreover, as toward God, that will be the characterizing condition at the time of the visitation of which we are about to read. (See especially the “image of the Beast” of chapter 13—worshipped by the world!) Next, their attitude toward one another (verse 21)— murders. The daily press already fairly screams of “killings,” and that not only by gangsters, but by fathers and mothers of families, by college students, young people and even children! Violence is indeed filling the earth, “as it was in the days of Noah.”

Then come sorceries. The Greek word pharmakeis is used three times in the New Testament: here, and in Revelation 18:23 and Galatians 5:20. The corresponding noun is used in Revelation 21:8 and 22:15. It fundamentally indicates the charming of others by means of drugs or magic, which is, of course, commonly practiced in the pagan world; and more secretly in so-called “Christendom.” Its connection seems to denote an evil intent upon others by means of enchantments. Its place next to “murders” here, and to “enmities” in Galatians 5:20, would show this. Generally speaking, it is calling the energies of the evil spirit-world, by whatever means, into human affairs. It forms a horrible and increasing maelstrom from which few escape who once enter it. The literal meaning of pharmakeia “enchanting by drugs,” can also include the fearful and increasing prevalence of the “dope” habit in all lands. Gangsters rely on drugs to stupefy their fears when they assassinate. All this is in accord with the prophecy of Isaiah 28 regarding “the drunkards of Ephraim.” It seems to portray clearly the future use of the vineyards now being planted by the returning Jews in Palestine.60

Let the dreamers of dreams who do not read God’s Word reflect on this. I fully believe these last days will prove the most drunken and drugged age the world ever saw! Unregenerate man’s refuge from intolerable conditions is suicide or drugged oblivion.61

The next prevailing sin (Revelation 9:21) is fornication. One has only to glance about at the pictures in newspapers, at magazine covers, at the advertisments of theatres and moving pictures, to see what a wave of lust has begun to sweep the earth. God’s Spirit seems to be withdrawing and letting the sinful heart of man have its fill of uncleanness. Gradually we become accustomed to reading or hearing of these things until we scarcely realize how far in a few years we have drifted toward the morals of Sodom. Nor will man repent of his dear sin in this respect. We remember that although Jezebel was given space to repent in Revelation 2:20, 21, it was of her fornication she willed not to repent. In a certain real sense, just as a Christian father lives watchfully to care for his wife and family, so the unregenerate world, uncontrolled as it is by the fear of God or the Holy Spirit, really lives for the essence of self-indulgence in the abuse of the sexual relation. One has only to recall the conversation he may have heard from worldlings off their guard to understand this!

Finally, the sin that brings about the terrific judgment of the horsemen of hell is theft. Get money, by whatever means, is the slogan of these last days. Dishonesty, trickery, irresponsibility in business circles, have become proverbial. A prominent man in a great commercial house some time ago said to me, “We never count as we used to on contracts being lived up to. Cancellation without notice is so common as to cause no surprise.” And what enormous trickery has the covetousness that has brought about the wrecking of hundreds, probably thousands, of banks, often revealed. Nor will there be any permanent change except for the worse. “Lying and false swearing,” according to Zechariah 5 (two remarkable visions!) are the special forms of iniquity in the last days, as revealed in Palestine but finally centered in “the land of Shinar” (Zechariah 5:11).

Chapter VIII
No Longer Delay!

Revelation 10

And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth; and he cried with a great voice, as a lion roareth.

We may call this angel the herald angel of the great things that belong under the seventh trumpet, as seen in chapter 11:15-19. The great burden of this angel’s message is that “there shall be delay62 no longer” (10:6, R.V.). The angel of chapter 10 is not Christ, but His messenger sent to announce a most solemn crisis.

This angel in chapter 10 really introduces chapter 11, with God’s two witnesses prophesying at Jerusalem; the great view of God’s plans concerning Israel, and Satan’s opposition, of chapters 12 and 13—in fact all these great events described in chapter 11:18. (Read this verse most carefully, for its importance is great.)

Let us return now to the beginning of chapter 10. “Another strong angel … a little book.” This is in plain reference to the strong angel of chapter 5:2 who also speaks of a book.

Note at once that John’s position in chapter 10 seems to be on earth (as it undoubtedly is in chapter 11), for he sees the angel coming down out of heaven.

That this angel is merely such, and not Christ Himself, as some maintain, seems to me fully evident. Over sixty times angels are mentioned in The Revelation apart from the “angels” of the churches; and they are always seen in service to Him who is opening the seals of the book of judgment. For the Master of the house to take the place of one of the servants at a time such as we are now considering is wholly incongruous. The more we study the book of The Revelation the more we become impressed and over-awed at the dignity and authority conferred on these beings called angels (Greek—messengers).

We need not, therefore, be surprised at the description of this angel in Revelation 10:1—“arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.” He is not sitting upon the cloud as the “one sitting like unto a son of man” of chapter 14. “Jehovah maketh the clouds his chariot.” But this angel was “arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head.” Here we are again taken back to Genesis 9 as in Revelation 4:3. God is about to call earth to account for breaking the everlasting covenant, of which the rainbow was the token (Isaiah 24). This angel’s face “as the sun” and his feet “pillars of fire” declare the supreme, searching, fixed character of his message. Of the angel who announces the final doom of Babylon it is written in chapter 18:1, “the earth was lightened with his glory,”—yet no one supposes him to be the Lord!

His right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth.

The sea often seems in Scripture a distinct province, with a responsibility and judgment distinct from that of the earth. In the issue of the seventh angel’s message introduced by this present angel, we find at the time the dead are judged, that the sea will give up the dead which are in it, before the human dead held by death and Hades are given up (Revelation 20:13). What the sea covers, no man knows, though it has been surmised, and that from certain Scriptures, that other than human remains are covered by its depths. We know that Satan was a murderer “from the beginning” (John 8:44), and that demons seem to be disembodied spirits ever seeking abodes, as Satan’s angels do not. At all events, the sea is covered by judgment, as this angel’s position shows. He cried “as a lion roareth.” Compare Isaiah 21:8 where the watchman “cried as a lion.” He represents Him who will shortly “roar from Zion” (Amos 1:2).

And when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders uttered, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

We remember “the God of glory thundereth” (Psalm 29) and Job 26:14, “How small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”; and Job 37:5, “God thundereth marvellously with his voice; Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.” Indeed, in Psalm 29 is a striking commentary on the seven thunders of The Revelation. Beginning with verse 3 “The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters: The God of glory thundereth,” we have “the voice of Jehovah” repeated exactly seven times!

It is characteristic of that presumption which belongs to error that Seventh Day Adventism professes to tell us (and that through a woman!) the very things which the seven thunders uttered: although God commanded John to seal them up and write them not.

It is well to observe, that what the seven thunders uttered is the only part of the whole book of Revelation which is sealed (see 22:l0). There “is a perfect, mighty, secret operation of God’s power in judgment, as well as in salvation (read Deuteronomy 29:29). Probably some day we will understand this sealed message. John did: he was about to write!

And the angel that I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his right hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein.63

With the little book open (verse 2) in one hand he lifts up his right hand to heaven, and announces a solemn oath by Jehovah the Creator. It is plain here again that this angel is not the Lord Himself; for when God took oath, “since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself” (Hebrews 6:13). Now Christ is Himself the Creator, but this angel takes oath by other than himself.

There shall be delay no longer! We are entering upon a new phase of divine judgments. In chapter 5 John wept much because no one appeared able to take at all the book of judgment, or even to look upon it. The Lamb then took the sealed book. Upon the opening of the first six seals, dire results followed among men: and again, after the seventh seal, six of the seven trumpets brought direct visitations from heaven upon impenitent men. Now, however, solemn oath is taken that in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God, according to the good tidings which he declared to his servants the prophets.

This expression, “the mystery of God,” in this connection seems to indicate all those counsels and dealings of God made known by Him to and through the Old Testament prophets, concerning His governmental proceedings with men on earth looking always toward the establishment of the kingdom in the hands of Christ.

When Christ comes to take the kingdom, there will be no mystery, but, on the contrary, manifestation. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea”—that is, universally and compulsorily (Isaiah 11:9). It is important for us to remember that we are ourselves still in the days of “mystery.” If a man would walk godly, there is “the mystery of godliness” by which he walks, unknown to the world (1 Timothy 3:16); those who would walk “lawless,” must at present walk in “the mystery of lawlessness,” for God is not yet allowing “the lawless one” to be revealed, but restrains (thanks be to Him!) (2 Thessalonians 2).

But when the seventh angel sounds, all this will be finished, and there will be open manifestation of all. So we shall expect Antichrist to be brought forth; Israel to be hated and persecuted by all nations, and Satan universally worshipped, for he is the god of this age! And we shall expect God to manifest His anger. He will do so, and fully—“in the days of the voice of the seventh angel.” “Delay no longer,” then, is the word that governs things—let us hold this fact in mind, from this seventh angel onward.

And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard it again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel that standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

John is evidently, in spirit, upon the earth here. Also, that the voice should come from heaven to him, anew emphasizes the fact that the holder of the book is not Christ, but, as is said, simply an “angel.” It is again brought to our attention that this little book is “open,” not sealed; so that when the Seer has taken, eaten, and digested it, the revelations will all be such as can be understood from “the prophets” of the Old Testament, whose writings already have lain before men, “open,” for a long time.

And I went unto the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the little book. And he saith unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter.

God’s words, to one who loves them, are always sweet, as David says, “sweeter also than honey and the … honey-comb.” Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them.” But, while to Jeremiah, God’s words became “a joy and the rejoicing of my heart,” to John, upon digesting this little book, they became bitter.

Its contents were such as, when pondered and understood, were of anguish to the prophet. It evidently contained the revelation found in chapter 11 concerning the future awful “Sodom and Egypt” spiritual state of Israel (11:8) and the Remnant’s experiences under the rage of Satan and his vassals, in chapters 12 and 13.

They say unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.

Now this is exactly what John goes on to do, ending up with the ten kings allied with the Beast: their career and doom, in chapters 13, 17, and 19.

“They,” who told John he must thus prophesy, we may surmise were heavenly “watchers” (as in Daniel 4:13, 17): for the mind of God as to earthly judgments and prophetic programs is well known by those dwelling in the light of heaven (compare Revelation 7:13, 14; 11:15; 21:1; 22:9).

And now, let us reflect upon the fact that blessing to earth’s nations waits upon the condition of Israel, the elect nation. Christ will come, and “will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” and the receiving into favor of national Israel, will be as “life from the dead” for “the world”: as Paul so clearly sets forth in Romans 11:26, 15; and James, in Acts 15:16, 17; as also all the prophets.

But these same prophets with one voice witness that before Israel can become a joy in the whole earth, they must first taste the full bitterness of rejecting their true Messiah. The “false shepherd” must come. Apostate Israel will make a “covenant with death” and a treaty with God’s great enemy. The last state of “Israel after the flesh” will become “worse than the first.”

But the counsels of God are ever settled and His word faithful. So that we shall see the Lord in Revelation 11 commanding John to measure “the Temple of God,” with its altar and worshippers—even when the nation is apostate and the city “as Sodom”!

And the heavenly mind regarding Israel sees her as in Revelation 12:1; though her future experience on earth will be terrible (12:13-16). And a remnant will stand upon Mount Zion to sing heavenly praise! (14:1-5)

The two great prophets or “witnesses” whose testimony preserves Israel from doom, and lays the foundation of the fear of the Lord in the remnant, will now be considered.

Chapter IX
God’s Last Prophets: The Two Witnesses: Their Tremendous Task

Revelation 11

And there was given me a reed like unto a rod; and one said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

The moment the words “the temple of God” are used, we know ourselves to be on Jewish ground. During the present dispensation Stephen definitely testifies that “the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands”; while Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians 2, and Peter likewise (1 Peter 2:5), that The Church is at present the temple or sanctuary of God; none other being recognized on earth.

We are reminded also in the opening of Revelation 11 that the only temple of Israel recognized by God is in their own land, in their appointed city Jerusalem. We must go thither for the interpretation of the remarkable passage which is now before us.

In accordance with this, let us conceive the Jews back in their land, and having built a temple unto their God, and that there are “worshippers” discerned by God, though not yet publicly recognized by Him. The “altar” is that for sacrifice, not for prayer.

This whole eleventh chapter of The Revelation is anticipative in character. Matters are set before us that must later on in Revelation find their delineation in detail. Other Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, have abundantly prophesied a restoration or returning of the Jews to their land in unbelief, with not only a racial, but a national consciousness; and the construction of a temple such as John is told to measure here. The interpretation of The Revelation reasonably demands familiarity with God’s prior words. Such passages as Zephaniah 2:1, 2; Isaiah 66:1-4; Isaiah 28:14-22 indicate what will be the moral and spiritual character of those who “gather themselves together” as a nation in the last days.64

In accordance with Israel’s “temple of God” being again recognized, the Gentiles immediately take their place without: so we read in Revelation 11:2,

And the court, which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given to the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. Now some may ask, “Are not the Gentiles at present treading down Jerusalem?” Certainly, according to Luke 21:24, Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. But take care! Jerusalem is not here in Luke called “the holy city.” On the contrary, our Lord left the temple in Matthew 23:38, with the words, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” Today, no one spot on earth is recognized as holy above another: “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.”

But the Church age having ended (Revelation 4:1), and God having sent certain preliminary judgments (Revelation 6, 8, 9), with the result that men simply harden themselves against Him (Revelation 9:20, 21), He now proceeds to final things. And in order to bring on “Jacob’s trouble,” He must recognize that nation upon whose blessing the whole world waits, namely, Israel (Romans 11:15; Deuteronomy 32:8); but whose terrible chastening must come before they become “a praise in the earth.”

We see, therefore, that the Gentiles in Revelation 11:2 have the “without” place, being subordinate to the national acceptance and restoration of Israel.

Next we notice the Gentile’s blindness, maliginity and Satanic inspiration in the words, “shall they tread under foot.” When Jewish times come on with God, a Gentile has no business in Jerusalem whatever, unless he comes as a humble worshipper of the God of Israel and in His prescribed way! Jerusalem is the city of the great King, and while it is at present unrecognized by God, yet the very expression, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down,” shows the abhorrence of God for the gross, hideous un-cleanness, godlessness and blindness of the Gentile. Read the account in Ezekiel’s last nine chapters of the millennial Jerusalem, or Zechariah’s closing verses, “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy unto Jehovah; and the pots in Jehovah’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy unto Jehovah of hosts: … and in that day there shall be no more a Canaanite65 in the house of Jehovah of hosts!”

We must now notice the expression “forty-two months.” This we see is exactly equivalent to three years and a half, as it also is to 1260 days. This exact expression “forty-two months” is also used concerning the duration of the blasphemy and power of the wild beast of Revelation 13:5.

We should be familiar with the great prophecy (which is indeed the secret of God’s arrangements with Israel) in the ninth of Daniel, the seventy sevens. We know that one “seven” of years remains yet in the future, to pass upon Israel in their land and in their city, before the great six-fold eternal blessing of Daniel 9:24 comes to that nation. This time is spoken of in Daniel 12:7 as a “time, times (dual) and a half”—or three and one-half. This will be the time according to this Scripture when the Gentiles will conclude their “breaking in pieces the power of the holy people.”

It becomes important to consider carefully these two time-measures in Revelation 11, the forty-two months of verse 2 and the 1260 days of verse 3. Of course, these two periods are equal in duration, but the question is whether they cover the same span or are successive. However, before we can consider this question intelligently, we should read further on in our chapter.

And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two, hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth. And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed. These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire.

Here we have the most astonishing task ever committed to men—God’s last two great prophets, His “witnesses,” before the earth is given over to Satan and to Antichrist.

Let it be at once observed, though it may not be pleasing, that the question is not who these witnesses are. If that had been important here, God would plainly have told us. Some would make them Enoch and Elijah; some Moses and Elijah. We know indeed that Elijah is coming before the great and terrible day of the Lord, from Malachi 4, and from our Lord’s words to the disciples descending from the transfiguration mount; but this at present should not occupy our vision, but on the contrary, the fearful realities before our eyes! Let us be concerned here with God’s words, not with our surmises.

Suddenly, in the “great city,” Jerusalem, now called according to verse 8, “spiritually … Sodom and Egypt,” two divinely sent messengers appear. Iniquity, pleasure-seeking, godlessness is rampant—what could the words “Sodom and Egypt” stand for, otherwise? The Jews, with untold millions of money will have built up a city where, according to verse 9, “peoples and tribes and tongues and nations” like very Babylon, are present. Yet those Jews will have built a temple in the name of Jehovah their God, although not really knowing Him,—and the majority of the nation will be ready to make a covenant with Antichrist!

The fact that today, in the midst of utter godlessness, Jewish synagogues as well as “Christian” cathedrals keep springing up, surely signifies that the building of a temple of God in a city that is spiritually called “Sodom and Egypt” is a possibility. The Lord Jesus even acknowledges the temple that old reprobate Herod, the Edomite, the Esau-man, had built (or so enlarged as practically to build), as His “Father’s house,” at the beginning of His ministry, and “My house” at the end; only finally He leaves it “desolate” in Matthew 23 when they had rejected Him officially.

In the midst of the gross darkness that is covering the earth and the peoples, before Jehovah has risen upon Israel (Isaiah 60:2), there is this temple; and doubtless to it will these two witnesses be sent, just as the Lord Jesus preached in the temple, and the apostles after Him, even Paul, did likewise,—though it was “desolate,” as regards God’s presence in it.

The newspapers and radios will one day be crowded full of this news: “Two prophets appear in Jerusalem clothed like Elijah of old in sackcloth and crying out that judgment is at hand!”

Day after day the excitement will increase as these witnesses give their testimony. And what will that testimony be?

1. They will say that the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been rejected, is the “Lord of all the earth.” They will say (as said Elijah of old, in sudden apparition, at the court of Ahab), “As Jehovah, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” We see from the last phrase of Revelation 11:18, that they are addressing those that “destroy the earth.”66

2. They testify unsparingly of human wickedness to men’s very faces. You have probably never heard a preacher that told you to your face just how bad you were. I hope you have, but I doubt it. These witnesses will tell to the teeth of a horrid godlessness which is ready to worship the Devil, just what they are before God!

3. They will testify of the character of the judgments just past (chapters 6, 8 and 9) as having been directly from God, and warn of coming judgments infinitely more terrible. So did every prophet, and so will they.

4. They will decry the blasphemous claims the wild beast will shortly be making (chapter 13), that man is to be deified! They will denounce all the goodness of man as a lie!

5. They will testify that Jerusalem, although the holy city in God’s purposes, is spiritually “Sodom and Egypt,” and will announce coming judgments upon the city and people. They will tell the Jews that they “killed the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 2:15, 16), and that He will yet be the King over all the earth.

Now such witnessing as this brings out men’s wickedness. People fairly rave to destroy these witnesses! Many evidently attempt it, just as two presumptuous bands approached Elijah in 2 Kings 1 to their destruction.

Divine authority of such character and world-wide extent as was never committed to men, is given these witnesses. Elijah indeed shut heaven to the whole earth for three years and six months so that it rained not. But now if any even desire to hurt these witnesses—“fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies.” Not only do they also shut heaven that it rain not during the days of their prophecy, but, like Moses, they turn the water into blood! They smite the earth with every plague as often as they shall desire.

We emphasize the view that not the identity of these witnesses, but the character and history of their testimony is what the Spirit of God brings out here.67

Let us reflect upon the awful gap between this world and God, despite the “religious” forms we see about us. There is utter hatred of all that is really of God, and it is daily increasing. Hath not Judaism slain its thousands, and Romanism its tens of thousands, of God’s witnesses? Finally will be sent these two—the last prophets earth shall have from God!

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and make merry; and they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth.

Let us note first of all that these witnesses will finish their testimony. Every one of God’s witnesses, every believer, is “immortal until his work is done.” No servants of God ever encountered such fearful opposition and utter odds as they, yet they finish their testimony. Satan can do nothing without divine permission.

Next we read words that transport us over into chapter 13 and into 17—of the Wild-beast68 that cometh out of the abyss.

This awful being, the last head of the Roman Empire revived, and Satan’s very counterpart of the risen Christ, will be given power at last over these mighty witnesses of God, to “make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.”

Thus, before the eyes of deluded humanity, who have chosen falsehood, will be enacted a scene of apparent, complete victory of Satan’s Christ over God’s holy prophets.

As our Lord said, “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” It will be in the very city where, as we read in verse 8, “their Lord was crucified,” that these two mightiest of all God’s messengers among the sons of men will be ignominiously slain. (Their Lord also seemed in this same city to pass under utter eclipse— yea, and did so—when He died at the hands of sinful men.)

Now comes the real revelation of the heart of man: glee, horrid, insane, inhuman, hellish, ghoulish glee! There is actual delight at the death of God’s witnesses— utter unbounded delight! Newspapers have whole front pages of jubilation. Excursions are run into Jerusalem to see the unburied corpses of these prophets of God: peoples, tribes, tongues and nations look upon their bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their corpses69 to be laid in a tomb.

These two witnesses, for 1260 days, in utter self-denial, clothed in the sackcloth of humiliation, lamentation, prayer, mourning and warning, had cried out on God’s behalf. Now the tables are turned, and “they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and make merry”! A regular Christmastime-of-Hell ensues: “They shall send gifts one to another.” (Do not believe for a moment, that the gift-giving of the world at the present “Christmas-tide” has the least thing to do with divine grace!)

Notice now the rush to Satan’s banner (the Beast), the moment he is allowed to kill God’s witnesses. There is no moral or spiritual restraint left—no qualm of conscience! You must learn to believe the worst about humanity, or join the Devil’s theology finally!

Now comes a change:

And after the three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that beheld them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

Like their Lord in suffering and shame, they are now made like Him in resurrection and exaltation. They go up to heaven in the cloud and (what was not true of Christ), their enemies behold them! Great fear has already fallen upon them that beheld them, with the breath of life from God in them, and standing upon their feet. Now that utter denial of heaven, which has even now begun to spread over the earth, and will increase to awful proportions in those days, is itself denied by the mounting up to heaven, in the sight of men, of these two witnesses! Christ’s resurrection comforted those who “saw him after he was risen”; the resurrection and ascension to heaven of these witnesses will verily terrify their foes! And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell; and there were killed in the earthquake seven thousand names of men; and the rest were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. Four things follow in that very hour:

1. A great earthquake: God “shakes like a hut” this whole guilty earth, as He did at the time our Lord Jesus was slain by men, in the same city, Jerusalem.

2. One-tenth of this “great” rebuilt Jerusalem falls. There is yet to come, under the seventh bowl of wrath (chapter 16:18-20), the greatest earthquake that has ever been. Be it noted here/however, that earthquakes are one of God’s judgments (Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11). Five distinct ones are mentioned in The Revelation. Men have forgotten to fear the God who declares in Isaiah 2:20, 21, “Men shall cast away their idols … go into the caverns of the rocks, and into the clefts of the ragged rocks, from before the terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake mightily the earth.” What does the modern scientist know about earthquakes, after all his “investigation”? In the last great earthquake of Revelation 16, the cities of the Gentiles will fall. But do they believe it as they build their skyscrapers today?

3. Seven thousand are killed. When Elijah thought himself alone, God spoke of a remnant of seven thousand whom He had preserved. Here, however, matters are reversed. There is judgment—seven thousand are killed. We cannot avoid the belief that the number is significant. When Moses avenged the holiness of God upon the worshippers of the golden calf and the breaking of the law—three thousand were killed. When Peter preached the first sermon under grace—three thousand were saved. The form of expression in Revelation 11 is peculiar in the Greek: “names of men seven thousand.” Many have believed that this indicates prominent men. Seiss remarks, “They would not allow burial of the slain witnesses, and now they themselves are buried alive in the ruins of their own houses, and in hell forever.”

4. There is a general fright and a giving glory to the God of heaven. Let us notice at once that this is the only record of any public, human regard of God on earth, between the Church days in chapters 2 and 3, and the coming of Christ in the Day of Wrath and the setting up of the Millennium in 19. This is awfully significant! Notice further, that here in chapter 11, there is no ground to believe that it was a general, gracious operation. “There was the general effect of unrepentant religion—but the testimony not received—for that would have broken their wills. Fear acted on them externally to honor God formally, but only as One in heaven.” Again another writer calls attention to the demons confessing Christ’s deity, standing aghast at His approaching judgments, but showing not an element of change in their character: “When men have sinned their day of gracious visitation away; fighting, killing and glorying in the destruction of God’s prophets, they are not likely to be suddenly transformed into saints by the constraints and terrors of the day of doom, although obliged to confess that it is the invincible God of heaven that is dealing with them.”

The second Woe is past; behold the third Woe cometh quickly.

Thus ends the second Woe, an awful time indeed! Men smitten by every plague at the hands of two of their fellow men, whom they could not help but know were God’s own, direct witnesses. So we read, “the third Woe cometh quickly.”

This will be the handing over of all men to Satan, according to 2 Thessalonians 2—“because they received not … the truth.” It will be the awful story of Revelation 13—which we must duly and solemnly study.

Meanwhile it may be well to resume the question of whether the forty-two months and 1260 days of this chapter run concurrently or are consecutive.

Let us observe that if the Beast kills the two witnesses at the end of the forty-two months of his career, it would be just at the time of our Lord’s second coming; for we read in Matthew 24:29, 30:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

But here in Revelation 11 instead of the awful advent of the Lord from heaven “immediately” after the killing of these witnesses, we read of a hideous celebration of their death by the nations and tribes of earth. True, after three and one-half days, these witnesses are raised and taken back to heaven, but there is no hint that the advent of the Lord takes place “immediately” as Matthew 24 calls for, if this 1260 days be the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week.

We do not find either, in the account of the fearful history of the Beast in Revelation 13, which continues for “forty-two months,” any account of, or any place for, the prophesying of these two witnesses. For forty-two months “a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” is given to the Beast to blaspheme God, His name, His tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven. Also “to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”; and to have “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him”—save the elect (Revelation 13:5, 6, 7, 8). Furthermore, the godly Israelites of those days were distinctly warned by the Lord to flee “the abomination that maketh desolate” (the person and image of the Beast in the temple of God).

The impression I feel very strongly from Revelation 11:7 is that it is at the beginning of the Beast’s successful blasphemous career, that he kills these two witnesses.

From the object of the prophesying of these two witnesses, we see also that there must be a preparatory work done in the heart of the Israelite of those days. The extent of Israel’s present blindness and alienation from Jehovah, and of her utter worldliness and commercialistic idolatry, is too vast and awful to be measured by us.

That these two witnesses have a ministry of judgment on the whole earth and to apostate Israel, as apostate, we see at once, but we must remember also two things: First, that they are the “two olive trees” which supply the oil of the Spirit by God’s grace and providence to that wretched, but true Israel, which really is the remnant. See Zechariah 4:2, 3, 6, 11-14 (R. V.)—a wonderful passage! Second, that these two witnesses are “candle-sticks” as well as “olive trees” (Revelation 11:4). The Church will have gone to heaven. No one on earth yet has faith, although many have been sealed as the Lord’s. Luke 18:8 puts a question which must be answered in the negative: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” After the Church is gone, the earth waits Israel’s conversion. We read in Isaiah 60:2:

“For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Now Israel will not themselves be converted until they see the “sign of the Son of man (that is, Himself) in heaven” according to Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced. … In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

So that, all things considered, I am compelled to believe that the two witnesses will prophesy during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week. Their witnessing will lay the foundation of the fear of Jehovah in the remnant (although Jehovah will not be known, nor reveal Himself, until the end of the week, as the One “whom they have pierced”).

The Days of the Voice of the Seventh Angel

And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign.

And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great: and to destroy them that destroy the earth.

Although this passage seems so simple and plain, yet for three reasons we should mark it closely.

1. It marks a crisis in God’s dealings which must be fully understood and remembered as we proceed in this great book.

2. It gives God’s own outline of the events that follow, so that we know the things He Himself emphasizes.

3. Preliminary meditation upon these themes (especially divine wrath, the rage of the nations and the “taking” by God of His own great power), will clear our minds in these days of Satanic fog, to understand the delineation in the succeeding chapters of the matters given in outline in our passage.

Our lesson extends to “the destroying of them that are destroying the earth,” therefore it includes the overthrow of the Beast and his armies at the end of chapter 19 and the destruction of Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium in chapter 20; and, inasmuch as it covers the time of the dead to be judged, spans the great white throne judgment itself. The seventh angel’s trumpet therefore, brings us to the portals of the New Creation—to chapter 21.

We need to notice at once that the voices in heaven, and the twenty-four elders, celebrate the great events both in realization and in anticipation: in realization, because, at the seventh angel’s sounding, God’s whole administrative attitude changes, from hidden, to openly exercised, authority; in anticipation, because the actual subjugation of the enemies is yet to be accomplished.

The “great voices in heaven” said, “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.”

Note the word kingdom here, not “kingdoms,” as in the King James version.

The verse means that the whole dominion of the world has, at the sounding of the seventh angel, become God’s in actuality; that is, in the exercise of the power He always has had. Hitherto, in the divine program, it has not been fitting to pull the lever releasing the resistless flood of kingly energy. The sealed book was given to Christ in chapter 5 with the acclamation of the universe. The succeeding chapters (6-9), showed certain visitations of divine displeasure, but God’s Christ remained in heaven, the souls under the altar are commanded to wait. Men, meanwhile, repented not. Then the angel of chapter 10 most solemnly announces that “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel” God will finish His mystery and will reveal all His authority, according to all that the prophets foretold.

When for example, Israel compassed the walls of Jericho, blowing warning ram’s horns each day, there was a moment on the seventh day, when they had compassed the city the seventh time, that there came a long blast from the ram’s horn, and God said “shout,” and the walls fell flat. This may serve as an illustration of God’s ways, both in judgment and in training His people.

Until the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15), what all heaven with holy eagerness had long looked forward to, had not been done—the taking of His great power by the blessed and only Potentate.

And now hear in exultant acclamation: “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ: and he shall reign unto the ages of the ages”!

We all have seen the celebration of a successful political party after an election. The “campaign” is over; the stress and struggle, the, at times apparently, doubtful issue; the intense devotion to the candidate for office; and now the battle is won, jubilation fills the air! Relief in victory and hope of the future, fill men’s very hearts!

So, when at last “delay” is over, and the long, long ages of conflict between light and darkness are about to end, heaven with great voices of utter delight bursts forth into celebration!

We do not well, unless we also enter into the very spirit of this rejoicing. Our Lord taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” All the hosts of heaven are waiting today the sounding of this seventh trumpet, with an eagerness of desire and a holy consuming longing we can hardly imagine. In utter, absolute devotedness to their God and to His blessed government and purposes, they have served through these ages since rebellion began in heaven, with jealous hope, every day, every hour, every moment, looking for the coming of the day when God will take over the government of this rebellious earth—take it over in power; Take His Great Power and Reign. The prophetic account of that glad day is given us, that we may join by faith in the scene that shall “soon come to pass,” and may rejoice with those that shall rejoice, in that blessed consummation!

Notice, first, that the elders, themselves already crowned, cannot therewith be content till God takes His great power, and exercises it. Rapture and worship then thrill them!

Again, they address God in His full revealed name as “Adonai-Elohim-Shaddai, who art and who wast,” no longer adding, “who is to come”! This act of taking His great power and reigning, has ended the long night of mystery, where, amid great trials, faith held fast to “who art to come.” Now it is in manifestation, heaven has stepped into a new stage of blessing! Our God, who is and who was, is reigning at last! He has taken His great power.

Once again, note that the words “didst reign,” show how definite, in the view of these elders, is that act of God by which He lays aside all obscure providential government to assume His royal prerogatives. The construction is remarkable: “Thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign.”

Let us now study humbly the five-fold results of God’s “taking” His power.

1. “The nations were wroth.” The anger of earth at heaven’s beginning royal interruption, is unbounded. It is a great subject of prophecy—”why do the nations rage?” (Psalm 2; Psalm 83; Joel 3:9-13; Zechariah 14:2-4).

The hatred of fallen man against divine control began with Cain, in Genesis 4. Though a murderer, he utterly resented Jehovah’s interference. Saul pursues David, God’s elect king, like a partridge in the mountains. Absalom will be a patricide, ere he will submit. Ahab and Jezebel hunt Elijah in every kingdom on earth, once the prophet takes control of the elements! Why did Israel slay the prophets of the Lord? Only because they asserted Jehovah’s authority! Nebuchadnezzar is full of fury against Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, if they dare disobey his blasphemous decree. Haman would have not only Mordecai, but all the Jews, killed, to appease his wounded vanity: for Mordecai “bowed not down.”

The Jews spit in the face of the Lord Jesus saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” When it reaches Nero’s ears that Paul preaches “another king, one Jesus,” he must have him back to a second imprisonment at Rome and cut off his head. Look at the bloodstained path over which the martyr-saints have come, who dared claim rights for God and His Son in this world! Today men will tolerate a preacher if he lets them alone. They can even patronize a preacher who does not touch their wills. Religion is decent, but surrender to God is intolerable to the nations of this world.

Now, in our lesson, when God ends all this time of long-suffering, and steps out, claiming in power that obedience to Him upon earth that is due Him from all His creatures, humanity will be found a hotbed of rebellion. It will be like striking a vast hornet’s nest!

Do you know that it is a public scandal in this universe—the history of this world? Men have so long been let alone, or visited by only occasional displays of divine power, that there is “no fear of God before their eyes.” Look today at Russia, the anti-God nation. But the denial of God in Russia is but a hint of what all nations will shortly display, as we shall find in Revelation 13. When man’s long carnival and carousal of selfishness is confronted by a will that is resistless, so that nations must bow to it or be stricken off the earth—then shall we see the events that lead to “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty”; and to the thousand years of iron-rod rule so lightly called “the Millennium,” even by unconverted people today. It will be a time when this earth will obey the will of another than themselves!

2. “And thy wrath came.”

God’s wrath has been postponed so long that men deny altogether a God capable of anger and vengeance. Paul disposes of this in one searching question: “Is God unrighteous who visiteth with wrath? Be it not! for then how shall God judge the world?” (Romans 3:5, 6). God is Love; but God also is Light; and He hates sin with all the infinite eternal abhorrence of His infinitely holy being and nature! And He has already “appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). “Unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish.”70

Perhaps the truest test of a doctrine, next to the reason why Christ shed His blood (and directly connected therewith), is, does it set forth a God capable of hatred of sin as sin (not merely for its disastrous effects upon creatures), and capable of visiting personal and eternal wrath upon those who choose sin as their way, who “loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil”?

We speak of this, because we must get ready, now, if we are to go on with The Revelation, to hear and believe the facts regarding the wrath of God. The “God” of Modernism, Universalism, Russellism, Spiritism, Christian Science, in short, the “God” the world dreams of, does not exist. The “god of this age” is Satan. He has blinded the minds of them that believe not. Men are in a fool’s paradise who prate of the God of the Bible not being such a one as will punish sin! Wrath is indeed waiting, in this day of grace, but “Thy wrath came” will shortly be fulfilled.

3. “And the time of the dead to be judged.”

The “coming” of divine wrath involves that measuring out to each (unsaved) creature, that recompense due, in view of light had, and attitude and deeds. This is called judgment. Only the unbelieving will be judged, as we see in John 5:24, R. V., and John 3:18. Thus only the lost are in view in the words, “the time of the dead to be judged.” For the sin question, for believers, was brought up at the cross of Calvary; and a judgment day was held there, with all the infinite demands of God’s justice against sin fully allowed, and fully and forever met! He “shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.”

      “Payment God will not twice demand— First, at my bleeding Surety’s hand,

      And then again at mine!”

4. “And the time to give their reward.”

This seventh trumpet ushers in the glad day of rewards!

“To thy servants the prophets.” The prophets are first; and do we wonder? The prophets of God were first in time, and peculiar in duty and suffering.

The word “prophet” means, one who speaks for another (Exodus 4:15, 16 illustrates it). These Old Testament men of God gave out God’s message to their fellows at all and any cost! Only read such experiences as fell to the lot of Elijah, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea and Amos.71 Shall they not be rewarded? They shall, and first.

“And to the saints.” Probably all the saints of God are here included. The rapture of the Church (1 Thes- salonians 4) occurs, we believe, at chapter 4:1. We know that Paul, Moses, David and Abraham are all looking to a “day” of rewards. That day has not come yet, though they have been eagerly awaiting it for centuries. Rewards are connected with the kingdom, as Paul shows in 2 Timothy 4:18. We know “the day of Christ” is connected with the rapture; “the day of the Lord” with The Revelation. But let us reflect that the seventh angel sounds at least three and one-half years before the revelation of Christ with His saints, as in Revelation 19:11-16. The seventh angel sounds before The Great Tribulation, into which the Church does not go. But we feel that God, dealing as He does according to works in the matter of rewards and only by grace in the matter of salvation, justly postpones giving these rewards unto this time—giving the prophets precedence, then all those called “saints” (as having separating light and privilege); and then,

“And to them that fear thy name, the small and the great.” Here are those (like the “righteous” ones of Matthew 25:37-39), who did not have much light, but yet “feared the Lord.”

It is a comfort to the heart, here, also, to find the “small” named before the “great”: (contrast the judgment of Revelation 20:12, where the order is natural, not gracious).

5. “And to destroy them that destroy the earth.”

The seventh angel’s trumpet does not say that all these things have been brought to pass; nor (as do the prophets) merely that they shall come to pass; but, as Alford says, “the hour is come for it all to take place.”

Man, since the Fall, has been a destroyer of God’s earth. “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” It is said there were nine Troys; Homer’s Troy is the second, built on the ruins of the first!

Also, man has appropriated all those inventions of “science” which he can to selfishness, and especially to war. The time will strike to stop all this. The destroyers shall be destroyed. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea”—that is, resistlessly!

The Heavenly Temple and Ark: The Faithful God.

And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.

This passage, if simply believed, becomes a key to seven chapters,—Revelation 10-16.

1. There is a literal temple in heaven. The one on earth was a pattern of the things in heaven (Hebrews 8:5; 9:22).72

2. The real “ark of his covenant” which declares His purposes and His faithfulness, is there.

3. This ark’s pattern was given to Israel, not to the Church: the Church does not have to do with earthly temple-worship, nor with those governmental affairs of earth with which God has connected Israel.

4. The ark of Israel’s temple disappeared (for it was all typical of things to come); but when God begins again to deal with Israel and those governmental affairs with which Israel is bound up, the real ark appears in the opened temple on high.

5. The ark of old was the place of God’s dwelling, in the Holy of Holies, with His people. But here we see the ark connected with the putting forth of judgment,lightnings, thunders, an earthquake. For God had said to Moses, when He renewed His covenant with Israel, after the great breach, of the calf-worship, that He would do thus: “Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people (Israel) I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth, nor in any nation … for it is a terrible thing that I do with thee.” “In the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them” (Exodus 34:10; 32:34). God is here in this part of The Revelation, showing that He mill do as He has said: therefore is His temple in heaven opened, and the ark—symbol of His covenant-keeping, seen.

6. This judgment-action of God will involve all the earth: for Israel are to be established as God’s elect royal nation,—but punished first. And all nations will be brought up against Jerusalem to battle, at Armageddon.

7. Therefore, Revelation 11:19 and 15:5-8 become luminous: God is acting in judgment, from His temple in heaven, and according to His covenanted arrangements, to restore the Kingdom to Israel, albeit by means so severe as to be bitter, indeed, for the Seer, who loved his nation, to know.

Chapter X
The Woman, The Dragon, The Man-Child

Revelation 12

And a great sign73 was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she crieth out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered.

That this woman represents Israel is evident, for:

1. The place in the prophecy is Israelitish: The two witnesses have been stationed at Jerusalem, where temple-worship is again going on.

2. The words, “sun,” “moon,” and “stars” immediately remind us of Joseph’s dream, Genesis 37:9—“Behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to me,”—a forecast of Israel, in the last days.

3. The Church cannot be spoken of in this language, for she was chosen “before the foundation of the world” and her glory is not at all describable in terms of this present creation. She has union with Him who has gone “far above all the heavens”; whereas this woman’s connection is plainly with what we call the “solar system,”—that is, as viewed from earth.

4. That she is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a twelve-star crown, indicates the subjection of earth to her governmental glory: “The splendor and fulness of governmental authority on earth,” belong, by God’s sovereign appointment, to Israel: and the restoring of the Kingdom to Israel, under Christ, is the subject before us in this part of The Revelation.

5. Israel is described in the prophets as travailing in birth; the Church never is (Micah 5:2, 3; Israel 9:6; 7:14).

6. Israel, not the Church, gave birth to Christ (Roman 9; Micah 5; Isaiah 9:6; Hebrew 7:14). In no possible sense did the Church do so. Seiss, generally very helpful, most strenuously asserts the Woman to be “the Church Universal”—whom he calls “the Mother of us all,” etc. But this is a Romish relict, nothing else. The “church of all ages” is a pleasant theological dream, wholly unscriptural. No wonder Mr. Seiss proceeds to call the Child “the whole regenerated purchase of the Savior’s blood,” though how the Mother and the Child can be thus the same company, even the author’s utmost vehemence fails to convince you! (Seiss: Lectures 26 and 28.)

7. It is very evident, and is most important to recognize, that this woman’s real history is on earth, persecuted by the enemy. (See verses 13-16.) It is the sign that is seen in heaven, while her experience proceeds on earth. When seen as a “sign,” we see God’s glorious purposes regarding her,—heavenly purposes, but to enter upon them, she is seen in a process of earthly persecution.

8. The subsequent earthly history (Revelation 12) of the woman, corresponds exactly with what other prophets tell us concerning the trouble of Israel in the last days.

9. The period of that trouble, as we see in Revelation 12:6, coincides also with the last of Daniel’s seventieth week—The Great Tribulation of three and one-half years.

And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems. And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child. And she was delivered of a son, a manchild, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God and unto his throne.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days. In this second “sign,” or symbolic vision, of this great passage we have: (1) The dragon, his greatness and murderousness; his regal form; perfect wisdom (seven heads) and almost perfect governmental power (ten horns) soon to be developed in the revived Roman Empire as the Beast of chapter 13; next, his fatal influence in drawing to their ruin a third of the angels; then his devouring enmity toward the child of the woman. (2) The birth of the Male-child destined to rule with iron-rod the nations, and the taking up to God and to His throne (for the then present) of the Child. (3) The flight for 1260 days of the woman to a divinely prepared protection, and her “nourishment” there.

Although, be it noted, he is here called “great” and “red” and a “dragon,” in Ezekiel 28 he seems to be the highest creature ever made, the anointed one of the cherubim, “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty,” probably leading the worship of the universe. Even Michael, the archangel, “durst not bring against him a railing judgment,” because he was of a higher order of being than angels—a “dignity” (Jude 8, 9).

Moreover, he is seen as red. This is the color of murder and of blood. Our Lord says of him in John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning”—awful history! Pride caused his apostasy; and utter hatred, deceit and violence continue his story, even after the Millennium (Revelation 20:7, 8).74

Also, he is called a dragon. In this is a picture of the hideousness and horror that sin brings. Contrast the beauty in Ezekiel 28 with this shuddering word “dragon.” This word is used only in The Revelation, and occurs thirteen times, twelve of these concerning Satan.75

If we compare him with the Beast of 13:1, we read: “A beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns ten diadems.” We find readily, the likeness to, and the distinction between, Satan and his final world-power developed, by Satan and headed up by the fearful man of Revelation 13:18. In the dragon the seven heads (complete wisdom, Satanic sagacity, and “the concentration of earthly power and wisdom in cruel despotic exercise”) wear the diadems, while the ten horns, (since the head controls the horn which springs from it) set forth what will be the utmost form of his diabolical exercise of power. Now in 13:1, while the seven heads are there, it is the ten horns that wear the diadems. Satan, who is pictured in the dragon, has projected his plan of universal earth-rule by ten kings, who are to wear the crowns! He sees to that! It is the final form of the fourth world-power of Daniel 7. And how fearful the thought that the earth will, at that time, be so wholly given over to Satan (whom it chose instead of Christ) that the very dragon-form of seven heads and ten horns will appear in God’s description of that revived Fourth Empire which is coming! Compare Revelation 12:3 and 13:1.

Again we read concerning the dragon, that “his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” This seems a direct indication of that proportion of the angels of God who are perverted by him into utter ruin. As we read in Daniel 8:10, 24, of Satan’s Christ, “It waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host and some of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them”; and “he shall destroy the mighty ones (angelic beings) and the holy people” (Israel).

When we remember the hundred million angels, and millions upon millions after that, of Revelation 5:11, who remained true to God, we get some conception of the host, who by Satan’s “traffic” (Ezekiel 28:16) were drawn away from the adoration of God to idolatry of this highest creature of His. The actual casting down of Satan’s angels with him is recorded a little later in our chapter (12:7-9).

The dragon’s desire is to devour the child, evidently knowing His destiny, that He is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. (Of course, this is Christ, and none other.) Satan has always known from Genesis 3:15 God’s plan—that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. All Satanic activities are carried on under the double motive of ambition to rule and be worshipped, and, hatred toward the One whom God has chosen to take the kingdom Satan has usurped.

The dragon, then, is Satan (verse 9). We have here the beginning of the end of the great warfare between God and His adversary begun in Eden. There the Serpent beguiled the woman, and God declared He would put enmity between the Serpent and the Woman, and between her Seed, and his seed. Now her Seed is Christ, and none other, as Paul shows in Galatians 3:16. “Unto us a child is born” cries Isaiah (9:6, 7) “of the increase of whose government and of peace there should be no end,” which is the exact subject before us in Revelation 12. Satan’s enmity and jealousy was against Christ, who was to “rule all the nations”: for had not Satan himself been their prince and god?

This scene in Revelation 12 (like Zechariah 9:9, 10), looks only at Christ as coming Ruler, and disregards all other history. Just as Zechariah saw Him ride into Jerusalem, lowly and meek, yet Zion’s King, and speaking peace to the nations, with dominion unto the ends of the earth, so with this passage (Revelation 12:5). Zechariah looked forward to His First Advent, John looks back to it: and both look on to His ruling—to the Second Advent. With Isaiah, Christ is the virgin-born Immanuel, the Child born who will have the government on His shoulder; Zechariah sees Him ride into Jerusalem upon the lowly ass—yet has Him ruling (making no mark of His rejection by Israel); John sees Him born unto Israel, despite the dragon’s efforts through Herod, the chief priests, and Rome; and then caught up to God and to His throne, as One that shall rule all the nations with an iron rod (without considering how long He shall have to wait in heaven before He “receives the Kingdom”).

It is necessary to remember that God emphasizes the fact in Revelation 12, that He is speaking in sign-language. Prophecy often speaks thus, noting desired facts, irrespective of chronological arrangement. So we have only to view those other Scriptures that concern the great end before us in Revelation 12, the setting forth of God’s King in triumph (though having to wait upon God’s throne) despite all Satan’s malice, to see who this Man-child must be.

The Church is to be caught up “in the clouds” (1 Thessalonians 4); but it is nowhere said of her that she is “caught up unto God, and unto his throne.” This place belongs alone to our Lord Jesus, according to Revelation 3:21. The Church will indeed share Christ’s future throne, but He only sits on His Father’s throne, “on the right hand of God.”

To claim that the child is a victorious company of the Church, while the rest are pursued by the Devil through the great tribulation days, has, we are persuaded as its root, self-righteousness; as its fruit, division of the Body: and as its character, terrible blindness as to what God’s sovereign grace is. “I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” said Paul.

“The things which are (the Church period), and the things which shall come to pass after these” (Revelation 1:19) is our Lord’s division of this book; and we must not depart from it. Therefore, we are not looking for Church things in Revelation 12, but on the contrary, we have from chapter 11 in the testimony of the two witnesses, as well as in the measuring of the temple, and the designation of the city as that city where “their Lord was crucified,” an indication that we are on Israelitish ground.

Now there are three scenes in Revelation 12: First, Christ born to Israel, and ascended, despite the dragon, to await His destined rule of the nations; second, the casting out of Satan and his angels from all place in heaven, and the joy of the heavenly throng over this; third, the wrathful persecution of the Woman (Israel) and her Seed, and her divine protection for 1260 days—The great tribulation.

The woman flees to “the wilderness.” If we do not understand prophecy, we make Israel’s fleeing immediately consequent upon our Lord’s ascension. But instead of this, we find the Jews in the Book of Acts long and steadfastly resisting and persecuting those who are really the godly remnant of Israel—those who had believed on Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.

Therefore, we must see between verses 5 and 6 of Revelation 12, the whole stretch of history from our Lord’s ascension to the yet future Great Tribulation; for the woman is nourished under divine protection 1,260 days: the latter half of Daniel’s seventieth week.76

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dra- gon; and the dragon warred and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him. And I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.

Michael, as we know from Jude 9, is the archangel; (although other “chief princes” are there, Daniel 10:13). We also find from the last verse of Daniel 10, and the first verse of Daniel 12, that Michael has been assigned by God to care for the destiny of the Jewish nation, and that his special activity on their behalf will come at the time of “the great tribulation.” He will “stand up” at the very time which we are now considering (Daniel 12:1, 2).

We should be moved deeply at the former humility of the mighty archangel, in the Jude account, in his actions toward the very being he is now at last sent to war against, and to overthrow! Many of us are kept from preferment by our arrogant or critical attitudes toward those foes whom God has not yet cast down; to say nothing of our too ready tongues toward other saints and servants of our Lord. There is a great lesson for all of us in the example of Michael! “Before honor goeth humility.”

Now, at last, the longsuffering of God permits the Devil and his fallen host to be cast out of any access to heaven whatever! The record states they are cast down to the earth, and of course, it means what it says. Satan’s sphere will be “the earth and the sea.” He will, evidently, be allowed his freedom on earth: and it will be “woe,” both to the earth and to the sea.77

Upon the occasion of his casting down to earth, all his Scripture names are announced: “The great dragon … the old serpent” (his hideous character and malignant, poisonous deceit as God sees it) “he that is called the Devil (slanderer) and Satan (God’s absolute adversary and ours), the deceiver of the whole world”—what a list! If, in the back yard of your home, were a den of rattlesnakes, headed by a king cobra, and they had been there all your life, hissing and threatening, and you should come home some evening to find that they had been at last utterly driven out, to return no more at all, would you not rejoice? So will heaven when the enemy and his host are cast out forever!

It is well to remember constantly that we who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ have an Advocate with the Father; and that it is, “if any man sin, we have an Advocate.” Also, as in Peter’s case (Luke 22) our Lord prays for us before Satan is even allowed to sift us! Also, that we have already been forgiven all our trespasses once and for all (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13) so far as the pardon of the Judge is concerned. There is now “no condemnation.” It is the forgiveness of fellowship of which God speaks in 1 John 1:9, forgiveness by the Father of His child, not to be confused with the once-for-all act of the Judge.

It is very significant that Satan accuses the saints before God, as if by our sins or failures as saints we are brought up again into God’s court (as all were, indeed in Romans 3). But it is with the Father that we have an Advocate, and He Himself, Jesus Christ, the Righteous, is the propitiation for our sins! No real believer’s sins come up in judgment, to endanger his eternal safety (John 5:24 R.V.). They do not come in before God as Judge: they did so come at Calvary, and were all put away forever!

The accusation of the saints by the enemy may be a mystery to you, but God suffers it at present, so be patient. And reflect that Satan’s accusations have never availed against one saint; that they drive the saints to dependence upon God; that they get rid of his self-confidence (as with Job and Peter); that they make to shine his choice of holiness and God and heaven as against all difficulties, and that faith through all, highly honors God and brings about the eventual utter overthrow of the enemy. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (1 Corinthians 6:3).

The “great voice” heard in verse 10 is that of the redeemed—it seems to me, all of them. They are those whose “brethren” have been the object of Satan’s enmity and accusation. (It is, of course, only saints on earth that Satan accuses; those in heaven are entirely beyond it.)

The word “they” of verse 11 seems to indicate that this verse has to do with such saints as are still upon earth; although the verb is in the past tense—“overcame.”78

The three elements of victory over Satan in any event are shown in verse 11: (1) The ground of it—the blood of the Lamb; (2) the outward course of the victors—the word of their testimony; (3) the inward settled attitude of the victors—they loved not their life— unto death.

Now let us look at the opening words of this celebration in verse 10: “Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.” How utterly idle is the discoursing of modernists and religious educationalists and social reformers about “the kingdom.” Their talk is full of “the kingdom this” and “the kingdom that”; whereas our Lord Jesus has not yet taken His kingdom. It has not yet been given Him of the Father. We are not living in kingdom days, but in days when Satan is the prince of this world and the god of this age, also, when he is accusing the saints before God. Only those born again ever see the kingdom of God; and “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”—wholly a separate thing from human arrangements and reforms! is the only form of the kingdom of God now.

Woe is announced to the earth and sea upon the Devil’s going down; for he has “great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.”

Our Lord Jesus told us that there is no truth in the Devil; that is, he receives none, holds none, loves none; yet he knows that Scripture will be fulfilled and he will shortly be in prison in the abyss; though the knowledge is not a belief in the sense of controlling his life, bringing about any repentance.

And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child. And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

The persecution, desperate and deadly, by the enemy of the nation of Israel is now before us—”the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Satan hates Israel: first, because they are God’s elect royal people; next, because of that nation is Christ (Romans 9:5) who is to have the kingdom upon Satan’s over-throw; and finally, because Israel is the perpetual proof before the eyes of men of the truth of the Scriptures and of the fact of Jehovah God.

But we find God rendering peculiar miraculous assistance in those terrible days to the real Israel, not those merely “of Israel” (9:6). That is, the remnant of those last days, in the “time, times, and half a time”—the three and a half years of The Great Tribulation.

Armies are sent out “as a river” by the serpent to destroy Israel. These forces are swallowed up by miraculous cataclysms:—as an ancient army was completely obliterated by a sand storm. God will protect Israel. He will make the earth help His nation when Satan and man seek to overwhelm them. Forty years, once before, in a great and terrible wilderness, Jehovah sustained them!

Finally, unable utterly to destroy Israel, the dragon goes to make war with any other godly left on earth: “the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus.”

Now this is not the description of the Church of God, as we know. The Church is not under law, but grace; whereas these keep “the commandments of God” (that is, the Old Testament). They also keep and hold the testimony of Jesus” (that is, especially, the four Gospels). This is not “holding fast the Head” in heaven, as the Church does. It is, rather, a holding the truth that Jesus was the true Jewish Messiah and that He will come and have a kingdom shortly.

Dark, dark days, these! Let us thank God for the Gospel of grace and publish it everywhere while it is called today. The night cometh.

58 This is not the brazen altar, as under the fifth seal, but the altar where prayer was offered up in 8:3. Its pattern is seen in Exodus 30. In the tabernacle the prayers of the Israelites who had been atoned for at the brazen altar were offered up before the golden altar, but now, just as we saw in 8:3, 5, the voice from the golden altar which was meant to speak for mercy, now calls for judgment; and it is from the “horns” that the voice comes in Revelation 9:13. The horns symbolize the power of that which was done at that altar. Therefore it is an answer to the prayers of God’s saints based upon Christ’s atonement that this terrible judgment now comes!

59 The final, unescapable demonstration of this is in Matthew 13 in our Lord’s interpretation of the parable of the tares (verses 36-43). In this interpretation He gives the meaning of the figures of the parable, The good seed— sons of the kingdom; tares—sons of the evil one; the enemy—the Devil; the harvest—the end of the age; the reapers—angels. Now read verse 41: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall, cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” You can’t say the furnace of fire is a figure here, without falsifying our Lord’s words, for He is telling what the figures of the parable mean. And you must also traduce your own intellectual processes, for you imagine an imagination (because you are terrified at the truth) but you have no basis for your imagination. You cannot reach it by logic, for logic leads you to the truth—of eternal literal fire in Matthew 13, Therefore when you claim you do not believe in literal fire but in something “more awful,” you are giving heed to your deceitful heart, to those subtle lies fostered there by the Devil. Whoever really heard of or described anything more awful than God’s visiting men with fire and brimstone?

Spiritistic mediums all talk about the “spirit world” as being lovely and pleasant, etc. Every false doctrine denies literal eternal fire. Keep out of that class!

60 “This prophecy is plainly one for the last days—yea, the last seven-year treaty of the “majority” (Daniel 9:27) of Israel with the last Roman emperor. Isaiah 28:15, 18, compared with Revelation 17:8 proves that. As to the prevalence of drunkenness in Palestine at that time, read Isaiah 28:7, 8: “These reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they stagger with strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment… . All tables … full of vomit and filthiness … no place clean.”

61 We have only to think of the use of alcoholic stimulants, of opium, of tobacco, of the rage of cosmetics and medicaments to increase love attractions, of resorts to the pharmacopoeia in connection with sensuality—of the magical agents and treatments alleged to come from the spirit-world for the benefit of people in this—of the thousand impositions in the way of medicines and remedial agents, encouraging mankind to recklessness in transgression with the hope of easily repairing the damages of nature’s penalties—of the growing prevalence of crime induced by these things, setting loose and stimulating to activity the vilest passions, which are eating out the moral sense of society—for the beginnings of that moral degeneracy to which the seer here alludes as characteristic of the period when the sixth trumpet is sounded.—Seiss.

62 The translation of chronos by the word “time” is impossible, as well as unreasonable, in view of the context. We know that after our Lord’s coming back to earth in chapter 19 there will be one thousand years of His reign with His saints on earth (20:4-6) and after that “a little season,” before the earth and the heaven flee away at the Great White Throne judgment.

63 This phrase is repeated three times, once in connection with each sphere of creation, as emphasizing the Creator’s rights as Creator, to proceed in judgment as He pleases.

64 There are several distinct goings into the land of Canaan by Israel: first, under Joshua; second,under Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest (see Ezra); third, under permission of the Gentiles, “before the decree bring forth … the day of Jehovah’s anger come upon you” (Zephaniah 2:2). This returning we see before our eyes today, especially since the Balfour declaration of 1917. This movement will proceed until Jerusalem becomes, as we find it in Revelation 11, a “great city,” and Palestine, through human methods of irrigation and development has become prominent, especially financially so, among the nations. This will be the situation when the majority of Israel make their “covenant with death,” the treaty with the “Prince” of Daniel 9:27, and Isaiah 28:14, 15. Having rejected Christ, the Jews will accept Antichrist (John 5:43). This situation will end, as we know, in Jerusalem being compassed by all nations to cut them off (Zechariah 14, Psalms 83, etc). It will be then that “the overflowing scourge shall pass through and tread them down” (Isaiah 28). The most of the Jewish nation will be slain. Fourth, that returning to Palestine described by the Lord when He says He will “set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, that shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:11). It is prophesied in other passages that Israel and Judah shall be one nation at last, without enmity as to God’s sovereign election of Judah as the royal tribe, and David’s seed as the royal house.

Christians, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”!

But that does not involve the Jews’ participation in the present movement (number three above). For Jews to gather back to Palestine now is to go back to a fearful program!

65 The word “Canaanite” means “trafficker.” Thank God, the day will shortly come when one land will be entirely free from commercialism and “business”!

66 “God is resuming again His place as Lord over the earth. The two witnesses render testimony to this Lordship—to the Lord over the earth; not to
the Father, nor to the heavenly glory, nor to the Lord of Heaven” (Darby). It should be remembered that God had committed rule upon earth to Israel;
they having wholly failed. He gave it to Nebuchadnezzar and the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. We are reading in Revelation 11 of the ending of Gentile times and the transferring again of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Israel must pass through the time of Jacob’s trouble, through The Great Tribulation; and the Son of David, who is now waiting at God’s right hand, must come to make Israel’s title and tenure good. It is a dreadful crisis which we are studying. .

Man, under Satan, has in every sphere of his being denied, and will to every possible limit, deny, God’s lordship of this earth. As concerning Christ, man has said, “This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance.” Men say in their hearts, “There is no God”; for they desire none. The absolute antipathy of this world for God—oh, it is wholly awful!

67 It would be well to reflect, for example, regarding Enoch, that he trusted God’s Word that he would not see death. So he will not, we are sure, see that Word fail!

68 Greek, therion. This word is first used in Mark 1:13, when our Lord was with the “wild beasts” in the wilderness. Its meaning in Revelation may be seen from chapter 6:8. The word indicates a beast of prey, of rapacity, of cunning, of unreasoning violence, acting according to its own cruel nature. It is God’s word for the last two great enemies of mankind as seen in chapter 13, and mentioned in 11:7 in anticipation.

69 The singular number of ptoma is used first, to emphasize their condition,—“their wreck,” as a German commentator puts it; but the plural afterwards when their individual bodies are distinguished.

70 Note the fearful progress in these words: wrath—stored up but possibly appeasable; indignation—more personal, at sin persisted in; tribulation—the attack, finally, upon the impenitent, of poured-forth fury; anguish—the eternal, terrible effect!

71 Read, if you would walk with a prophet, Jeremiah 1:4-10—his commission; his sorrow over sinning Israel in 4:19-22; 8:18—9:1, 2 and 10; and the whole book of Lamentations; his terrible loneliness, Jeremiah 15:10; 20:7, 8; his burden to speak his God’s message despite all, 20:9; 10:19-22; his persecution and suffering, 38:1-13. Hath not God all these things in His heart marvelously to repay? The prophets are peculiarly dear—all of them, to their God. All heaven values and remembers them, though earth hated and killed them. Blessed coming day—wait for it!

72 Moses made a pattern of the things in the heavens—“the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5; 9:24). If there were no sanctuary, no ark, literally, in heaven, of what did Moses make a pattern? And what mean such words as Revelation 11:19: “There was opened the temple of God that is in heaven”? That there will be no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem (21:22) is just as much to be expected as that there will be a temple, or formal worship, for others than the Bride, (the wife of the Lamb). “And there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant.” If these are “symbolical,” symbolical of what?

I have sometimes been asked “What became of the ark of the covenant when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar? It surely must be preserved somewhere.” Human thoughts are surely not God’s thoughts, for He distinctly tells us (Jeremiah 3:16) that in the future kingdom the ark shall not be remembered nor come into mind. Of course, the Apocrypha must have Jeremiah running and hiding that ark! (II Maccabees 2:1, 8). Why is it that the very folks who thus inquire beyond what is written, concerning the temple of old, are filled with doubt concerning what plainly is written of the temple in heaven?

73 The Greek word semeion, translated “sign” is used 77 times in the New Testament, and generally means an object set forth, or action done to accredit a person, or an utterance. Our Lord’s miracles are thus often named (John 20:30); and those of the enemy also (Matthew 24:24 and Revelation 13:13, 14). But the sense of the word here in Revelation 12:1, 3, is to set forth in picture, the facts and counsels as they are before God. The woman thus shows God’s counsels and plans concerning Israel and Christ, as regards rule on earth; and the dragon in the character he bears before God; and his hate of, and opposition to, God’s plan to have Christ rule the earth. For the whole question, from chapter 10 to chapter 16, is, Who shall rule, Satan or God? God’s Christ, or Satan’s?

74 Let us remember, however, that although the Devil was a murderer from the beginning, yet God commands Ezekiel to take up a lamentation over him (Ezekiel 28:11, 12). God “delighteth not in the death of any,” although He will fulfill Revelation 20:10).

75 “The dragon figured prominently in ancient and medieval mythologies as an embodiment of evil principle. It has been superstitiously dreaded and even worshipped, as in China, where it is the imperial emblem. It is commonly represented as a large winged serpent, with a crested head and powerful claws. In classical mythology, a dangerous, often a supernatural serpent” (Standard Dictionary). “The Hebrew word tannin or tannim is rendered by Greek, Drakon in the Septuagint. It seems to refer to any great monster, either of land or sea, as in Genesis 1:21; Job 7:12; Lamentations 4:3” (Bib. Cycl. McClintock and Strong). It is striking that just as inner Buddhism names its deity Sheitan, although not allowing the name to be pronounced because of dread; so the dragon was worshipped under that form and name in Babylon and many other lands. This shows how God compels this world to acknowledge whom they serve! Doubtless Satan hates to be portrayed as a monster with great jaws and claws and serrated tail. But the dragon legends of the nations simply support the Word of God!

76 Historical interpretations of this 1,260 days, which seek to apply it to church history, simply reveal neglect or ignorance of, the great principle of prophetical interpretation to which we have referred. It is my profound and increasing conviction that “the historical interpretation” of The Revelation is not only wholly astray, but is a great stumbling block to the understanding of the book. It ignores our Lord’s plain outline in Revelation 1:19 (See Greek or Revised Version, and follow the phrase “meta tauta” through the book).

77 It will be well to remember the successive steps in Satan’s judgment: 1. He is cast, as the “covering-cherub” as “profane” from the midst of “the stones of fire,” that is, from his first place as leader, evidently, of the worship of God in heaven (Ezekiel 28:14-16). This, I have always felt, is what our Lord meant in Luke 10, “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven.” The brightness of this being would make his fall as “lightning.” Also, the distance from his former glories, even to that “place in heaven” he now holds as the accuser, would be great and absolute. 2. He is cast down, here in Revelation 12, from whatever position he is allowed at present (as in Job 1:12; 1 Kings 22:21; Zechariah 3:1), to the earth. 3. He is cast into the abyss, in the center of the earth, at Christ’s coming, and there spends 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). 4. Upon being released at the Millennium’s end “for a little season,” and leading men again in desperate rebellion against God and His people, he is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone forever (Revelation 20:10).

78 Alford calls the present tense of accuseth “the present participle of the usual habit,” and many excellent students believe that the word “overcame” has reference to those already in heaven. This may be true. Yet those saints still on earth also get the victory over the dragon, as we shall see, and their only path is to “love not their lives.”