Part One: Judgment (chapters 11-14)

Chapter XI
The Beast And His Prophet

Revelation 13

The Lord Jesus said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” We now come to consider those who come not to save the world, but to damn the world, and whose fearful work, except for God’s elect being preserved by His infinite power, would destroy all men!

And he stood upon the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.

Now, however we may regard these words as descriptive of the revival of the Fourth Empire in its last form (and we know it is so) yet it seems to me far better to take the last verse of the chapter as the key to its understanding. “The number of the beast … is the number of a man!” Just as it is the judgment of the great harlot of chapter 17 that is in view, rather than her history, so here in chapter 13 it is the man who heads up and becomes the exponent of this last phase of the fourth world power that is before the mind of the Spirit. That there are difficulties is freely acknowledged; nor is the claim made that all these difficulties are here dissolved or disappear as we study this great chapter—great in the depiction of the quintessence of evil!

We see at once, upon looking on the verses above, that this awesome being called the wild-beast (therion)79 is the utmost production of him who is called “the great dragon,… The Devil … Satan, the deceiver of the whole world,” in his fury upon being cast from the heavenly regions down to this earth.

Not until now has God permitted His great adversary to bring forth this “man of sin.” There has been hitherto “one that restraineth” (2 Thessalonians 2:7 R. V.) who we believe to be the Holy Spirit, by His presence on earth in the Church—a direct action of God (Psalm 76:10).80

Now from Daniel 2:42 and 44, we know that the ten toes were to be ten kings, in whose days “shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.” The ten horns of Revelation 13:1 correspond to those of 17:3, interpreted in 17:12, “The ten horns … are ten kings … receive authority with the Beast for one hour. These have one mind, and they give their power and authority unto the Beast.”

The Beast, therefore, of Revelation 13 is a man who controls absolutely the royal authority of the ten kings at the time of the end, and this by their own united will. Thus we see on these horns in Revelation 13:1, ten diadems (R. V.). They are ten distinct powers; perhaps (according to the two feet of the image) five in the east and five in the west, although, knowing that “all that dwell on the earth” shall worship this last World emperor, we do not need to insist upon this. Moreover, the ten horns are kings, not kingdoms; and kings that do not become such till the Beast arises. Revelation 17:12.

The fact that the leopard of Greece, the bear of Medo-Persia, and the lion of old Babylon (Daniel 7) are all seen in this Beast, shows how all-inclusive of human things will be his character; he sums up all the brilliancy (Greece), all of the massive ponderousness of power (Persia), all of the absolute autocratic royal dominion (Babylon), that the Gentiles have ever known.

Satan, being the prince of this world and the god of this age, and being desperately set on ruling men and being worshipped by them, is now given his chance. Because men by trifling with the truth, and by utter impenitence have opened the way, God will now send them a strong delusion that they may believe the devil’s lie (“the lie”—2 Thessalonians 2:11, Greek).

The Beast, therefore, set before us in Revelation 13, is the dragon’s masterpiece of delusion, leading to worship of himself (Revelation 13:4).

But, men being what they are, it will require a “Christ,” or specially prepared man, to lead them to adore as their god, Satan, who sends forth his “Christ.” In this, of course, Satan copies God’s plan of salvation by the Lord Jesus. “No man hath seen God at any time,” “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” our Lord told us. To God it was infinite condescension and love that “God (should be) manifest in the flesh.” Christ humbled Himself by becoming “in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2). It was also in Christ as man that the eternal counsels of God lay. The climax for the redeemed is, “They shall see His (God’s) face.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Now Satan imitates all this. Instead of revealing himself directly to the mass of humanity, he selects two men, one to be worshipped, and the other to be his “prophet,” to secure such worship; for men are gross and crass generally, unable to perceive or appreciate the intellectual and spiritual marvels of the being who is called “the dragon.” And so it would be contrary to the pride of Satan openly to reveal himself to them. But it is in direct conformation to man’s nature to place before his eyes this Beast, a being who is the exponent and expression of the Satanic power behind him. Thus the superstitious awe and wonder of man would be drawn out; and the human imagination (which marvelous faculty man almost lives in, and which is fairly creative in its power) would be appealed to more powerfully than in any other way.

Even the Beast himself will retreat one step from man, in the same way, when an “image” is made of him by the second beast!

Thus will lie in the deluded world’s inner consciousness “the likeness of an image” of man, a wonderful man, who has returned in a manner beyond their knowledge from the unseen realm of the dead. And all the while the worship of all men will really be retained by Satan himself; for it will be known by all that it is the dragon himself that has given “his authority unto the Beast.”

We have, then, Satan worshipped through his chosen vessel, or “Christ,” a worship carried on through a fearful, speaking, breathing image, that can kill non-conformists or cause their death!

This is “the lie,” the inescapable damning lie, that the world in its dreamed of “progress” is about to enter into! And I saw one of his heads as though it had been slain unto death; and his death-stroke was healed: and the whole earth wondered after the beast.

Here then is Satan’s permitted imitation of the death and resurrection of Christ! The Greek word for “slain” is the same as that of chapter 5:6: “a Lamb … as though it had been slain.” It is because of His victory over death, after being publicly killed, that God’s saints hold fast to Christ; and all the world has been put in awe of Him.

Death is the unconquerable tyrant, the universal terror, through fear of which men are “all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15). But now, they are able to cast off their fears at last! One who has been slain with the death-stroke of a sword is “healed”; a killed body stands up! One who has been in the “abyss” repossesses this slain body. It is not resurrection like unto Christ’s, who left the realm of the dead forever, in “newness of life.” But neither is it mere resuscitation of a body in which life has not become extinct; for this “beast” will have gone down into “the abyss,”—will have left the body entirely. There will be, therefore, first, the killing by a sword-stroke of the body of one of these “heads”; and, second, the entrance into that body of that one of the seven kings whom God will suffer to be brought up from “the abyss” to be the “beast” to deceive men and to “war against the Lamb” (19:19).

It is not merely the fourth world power (Rome) that is here (as in Daniel 2), but chiefly the history of the “little horn” of Daniel 7, which springs out of that empire. This must be kept in mind. It is a man that is before our eyes in Revelation 13, all through. God says he is a Man in 13:18.

Now as to the “heads,” we must go to God’s own interpretation of them in Revelation 17, where we find, as regards the woman, “the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth”; but we note that this sentence reads right on, “and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition.” Returning to Revelation 13, as to the empire, it is in verse 3 “one of his heads … slain unto death.” But we see from Revelation 17, that this head was one of the seven Roman emperors, of which five had fallen when John wrote The Revelation. One, Domitian, was reigning, “the other” the seventh, not yet come. It might be such a man as Napoleon, for the Fourth Empire is still on until the stone strikes it; but it is more probably one who will rule after the more formal restoration of the Roman Empire.81

Now from these seven, the Beast of Revelation 13 comes. He is an eighth (not the, as A. V.) but is, withal, one “of the seven.” We remember that he was said in Revelation 11:7 to “come up out of the abyss.” Now the abyss (Greek abussos) is a word used ten times in Scripture, seven of these in The Revelation. We found in Revelation 9:1 that there was a shaft leading down to it; that it was in the heart of the earth according to Romans 10:7, compared with Matthew 12:40; that it is, so far as the human race is concerned, the realm of departed spirits—those who have died (not of the saved, of course, for these are now “with Christ”).

We are forced, therefore, to the conclusion that the Beast of Revelation 13 has been brought back by permitted Satanic agency from the realm of the dead, and that this fact is known to those on earth; to whom the fact that the Beast had had the death-stroke of the sword, and then afterwards lived (Revelation 13:14) was a well-known event of his history. Consequently the whole earth wonders after the Beast! How quickly now is swallowed up all the “wisdom of man” which God had long ago declared to be foolishness, as concerning divine things. Now it is shown to be futility itself also against the delusions God permits to come upon those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”82

How frightful then the scene! Men have rejected the wounded, slain but risen Lamb of God. And now they are given over to bow in absolute helpless “wonder” before another wounded one “slain unto death,” but who lives,—a fearsome lost creature from “the abyss,” re-entered, for Satan’s fell purposes, into a body that by its very death-scar compels the world’s worship as the victor over death! (All, thank God, but those written in the book of life of the Lamb; and these are kept not by their own power, let us well remember!)

And they worshipped the dragon, because he gave his authority unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? and who is able to war with him?

Here we have the utter helplessness of the Christ-forsaking world falling into the very jaws of the Devil, most fearfully set forth! On the one hand their worshipping the dragon and his awful Christ; and on the other their shrinking impotence to resist him. The whole earth will have suddenly become a thousand-fold worse off than Russia today! For in Russia they are denying God; but the whole nation has not yet been given up consciously to worship the Devil himself, as verse 8 of Revelation 13 declares all on earth, but God’s elect of that day, will do. Of course, no one is “like unto the beast.”83 They have back on their hands a “son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2), one they knew to have died, one whose history was universally known. Rome once was in anguish over the irresponsible hideousness of Nero. What if an individual of these seven emperors (of which Nero was one), should return to be “the man on horseback,” the “superman,” the great “world hero” that they have so long desired? And one will come!

And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given to him authority to continue (literally to do, or go ahead) forty and two months. And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, even them that dwell (are tabernacling) in the heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain.84

“There was given to him”—six times (the number of manifested evil) this phrase is used (verses 5 twice, 7 twice, 14, 15), in connection with this dreadful man called the Beast (literally, Wildbeast). It indicates judicial un-leasing of powers of incipient evil of which this world does not yet dream.

“A mouth speaking great things”—that is what the universities, the scientists, the wise ones of the earth throng, even rush, to listen to; and God will let them hear from the mouth of this man of sin, marvels beyond their utmost imaginings. Even today Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Spiritists, and “psychical” folks of all sorts, prate about the undiscovered, unused “powers” that lie in human nature; while science glories in its discoveries of the physical secrets of this universe. With such knowledge today human educationalism is captivated. What will happen when God permits Satan’s super-man to tell them utterly unexpected marvels!

But connected with these marvels will be blasphemies. Such derision of God, of His Son, of His salvation, as has never been heard or permitted on this planet will then come forth. Especially those “tabernacling in the heaven” —probably referring to Christ and His Church lately caught up and known (despite all earth’s hatred) to be above the earth, will come in for blasphemous execration. Satan, filled with disappointed hatred, will pour through this creature such words as will make Russian blasphemies seem trifling! He will deny that Jesus is, or ever was, the Christ of the Jews (1 John 2:22); and also deny the Father and the Son, as all Christians hold.

Forty-two months (three and one-half years, or 1260 days) the Beast is thus to continue on his way. The Lord Jesus said to the rabble who came to arrest him, “This is your hour, and the power (Greek exousia) of darkness.” What a scene followed in the next few hours! But God will give up the whole earth, except His elect, for three and one-half years to this direful scene of Revelation 13.

The saints (for there will be saints then, although not the Church) will be “overcome,” that is, over-powered, by this monster. Right will be trampled. Testimony will be stilled by the quick hand of martyrdom. “Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples.” If any man hath an ear, let him hear. If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goeth: if any man shall kill with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. This thrice-repeated word, “if any man” is addressed to any gracious ears then upon earth. First, let them hear God’s words, for there is no other possible way of deliverance at any time for God’s saints but through faith, and faith cometh by hearing.

Moreover, let them be warned against opposing this awful Satanic power by force. If any one undertakes to take captive this monster or his minions—into captivity such a one will go. If any one shall undertake to oppose him with the sword, by the sword he will fall; for God has given things over for the “hour” to Satan, whom the world has chosen.

We are emphasizing lastly words that we always need to lay to heart, “the patience and the faith of the saints.” Patience means suffering on in steadfastness, through trial, and it takes faith thus to do. But God’s grace of patience and the faith of His saints will triumph even in the darkest hour the earth has ever known or ever will know! The saints of those days (though not the Church) will find true “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

Satan’s Steel Trap: “Worship My Christ, or Starve!”

And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like unto a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight. And he maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deathstroke was healed. And he doeth great signs, that he should even make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men. And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast who hath the stroke of the sword and lived. And it was given unto him to give breath to it, even to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead; and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.

Let us now look briefly at the rise of this second Beast, the third of the Satanic trinity. The first Beast was from “the sea,” this one from “the earth.” Of course John, in chapters 12 and 13, is speaking in sign language (12:1-3); yet it must be remembered that both these “beasts” are human beings. The first is definitely called a man (Rev-elation 13:18). But the doom of both the first and second, as described in Revelation 19 and 20, prove both to be human beings. Systems, forms of empires, etc., are dealt with by God on earth; but only persons are cast into the lake of fire.

It is generally taken that “the sea” from which the first Beast arises, denotes (as in Revelation 17:15) “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Inasmuch as in Daniel 7, the rise of the four great world-powers, which are all expressed in the Beast of Revelation 13 is described (compare Daniel 7:1-8 with Revelation 13:1), this interpretation of Revelation 13 seems necessary. We may add, that while in Daniel it is “the great sea,” the Mediterranean, around whose shores all four great earth-empires had their existence, it is “the sea” in Revelation 13. For here the Beast secures universal dominion, hence, perhaps, the more general expression.85

But it must be remembered, from Revelation 11:7, that it is the first Beast who is operating at Jerusalem at the close of the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week (when he kills God’s “two witnesses”); also, from Revelation 11:9, that Jerusalem is at that time crowded with peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations. Hardly a “settled state”!

Again, the second Beast is always close to the first—his Prophet, Premier, exponent, and nothing else but that, according to Scripture.

And it is the first Beast that he lauds and acclaims as the object of worship, and that chiefly on the ground that the first Beast had had a “death stroke,” and has been “slain unto death” (13:3—Greek) and now lives!

We now quote the Endor witch’s description of Samuel’s appearance (and he did appear!); “I see gods coming up out of the earth.” Many draw from that the inference that the second Beast is likewise a spirit from Hades. It may be so—(see Seiss). But it is the first Beast that the Scripture declares comes up from the abyss—and whom the whole world recognizes as having had a previous earth-history. Let us remember this carefully. Prophecy is full of this one man’s career, both in type and direct prediction.

If Judas Iscariot (as some predict) were permitted to return and direct the Israelitish nation’s apostasy to Satan-worship, as he once helped them to crucify their true Messiah, he would scarcely let himself be known as Judas! For he is despised as a traitor, even by godless Jews—was despised in his own day (Matthew 27:3, 4). Judas went from apostleship to “his own place” for future judgment; the phrase “his own place” merely contrasting with that place of honor from which he “fell away.”

Is the first beast “Antichrist”? That the first Beast is the Antichrist of Scripture, may appear from the following considerations:

1. In John 5:43, our Lord says, “I am come in my Father’s name and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (The Greek is “en to onomati to idio,” which we almost might read, “in name peculiar to himself”.) But the second beast of Revelation 13, comes to establish the name of the first. He (the second beast) “causeth all, … that there be given them a mark … that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the Beast (the first beast) or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16, 17).

2. In Revelation 16:13, the trinity of hell is named “the Dragon … the Beast … and the false Prophet”; as also in 19:20, “the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight.” A prophet is one who speaks for another, coming in the name of another, as all know. How could this second beast of Revelation 13 fulfil John 5:43, if he comes in the name of the first Beast, and not in his own name?

Mr. Darby says (Coll. Writings, Prophetic Vol. 1, p. 306) “When the question as to power comes on, and Antichrist rises up in his full form against the Lamb, he is finally cast down, and put, with the false prophet, in the lake of fire, and his followers killed” (italics mine). Whatever question Mr. Darby ever had regarding the identity of Antichrist, his words here reveal that when he wrote them he counted Antichrist as the first Beast, and the second merely as his “prophet.”

Proper interpretation must regard these two Beasts of Revelation 13 as two men. They are on the scene at the same time; both have fearful energies of evil; but the second does nothing independently of the first. We read, “he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight” (or presence). He also works wonderful “signs” which are done “in the sight” (presence) of the first Beast. The word means just what the same word (enopion) means in John 20:30, where our Lord’s miracles are said to have been wrought “in the presence” of His disciples,—emphasizing that fact!

3. Practically common consent regards “the man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2 as the Antichrist. But of him it is said, “he … opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.” But this is the exact contrary of the actings of the second beast in Revelation 13:12, 14, who “maketh the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose death-stroke was healed … saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast who hath the stroke of the sword and lived.” The second beast is nothing but the “prophet” of the first Beast. Once admit (which we shall find we must do) that the first Beast is a man, and not any kind of a system, not even the Fourth Empire as such (Revelation 13:18) and we are driven to conclude that the first Beast of Revelation 13 is “the man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2—the “lawless one”: for he owns no one but himself. He could not be described as leading the earth to worship another,—as does the false prophet, the second beast of Revelation 13. And exactly the same is true of “the king” of Daniel 11:36.

4. Some assert that the character of the second beast as the “false prophet” to the first Beast, is a later form of his evil energy; the first stage having been as an independent or at least distinct “king” rising in Palestine and fulfilling in that country such passages as Daniel 11:36—the wilful king; or 2 Thessalonians 2, “the man of sin”; and later bringing by deceit the Jewish nation who have received him as Christ to subjection to and worship of the civil power, of the first Beast, etc. But such an interpretation cannot fill the picture drawn in Revelation 13, even if we could conceive of the second beast ever doing anything in his own name. For the first Beast is immediately set before us in Revelation 13 as himself the great and direct religious blasphemer of those days. “And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, them that dwell (tabernacle) in the heaven” (that is, especially, the Church which has at that time been raptured and is “tabernacling,” after the first stage of Christ’s coming, in the regions out of which Satan has been cast).

He makes also immediate and successful “war with the saints.” Again, there is given him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation (including Palestine!); and still again, “all that dwell on the earth shall worship him”—except the elect of those days (Revelation 13:6, 7, 8).

Moreover, there is given him “authority to continue forty and two months,” i.e., the whole duration of the tribulation, the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week.

Now where is there room in this scene for more than one being to “set himself forth as God,” in “the temple of God” or anywhere else on earth? All prophecy crowds down stupendous issues into this brief and terrible period!

5. We know from Daniel 9:26, 27, that the last prince of the Roman Empire will make “a firm covenant” or treaty with the Jews in their land for seven years, and that “in the midst of the week,” i.e., after half the seven years are passed, he (this Roman prince) will “cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” If there is at that time in Palestine an “Antichrist” setting himself forth as God, where does the fancied alliance between this king and this false Christ in Palestine come in, so that Revelation 13 can be fulfilled? There is no hint that the second beast of Revelation 13 ever has been anything other than subservient to, or “prophet” of, the first Beast! It is without question the first Beast, the last Roman emperor, who will fulfil Daniel 9:27, causing Jewish worship to cease, and becoming “the abomination that maketh desolate” by “standing where he ought not” (Mark 13:14), “in the holy place” (Matthew 24:15) i.e., in the rebuilt Jewish temple at Jerusalem as seen in Revelation 13, where, (although not yet owned of God) with respect to the Gentiles the place will be “holy.”

It is reliably reported that Dr. Theodore Herzl, the great organizer of Zionism, in his zeal to secure a national home in Palestine for Israel, not only appealed to the Pope for help, but to the Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey (“Abdul the Damned”), even telling the latter that if he would let the Jews have Palestine, they would adopt him as their promised Messiah.

If we compare the history of the first Beast as seen in Revelation 13 with the career of the wilful king of Daniel 11:36 and “the man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2, we find complete simplicity and accord, the second beast of Revelation 13 coming in merely as what he is called—a prophet of the first. But if we undertake to name the second beast a mere Jewish Antichrist, deceiving that nation finally into worship of the “civil power,” the Roman ruler, we cannot claim either 2 Thessalonians 2 or Daniel 11 as referring to him, because these passages set forth one operating “in his own name,” in resistless power, and in self-deification.

6. The condition of the Jewish nation in the last days must be considered. First, they will say, “we (will be) like all the nations” (I Samuel 8:20). Second, they will be possessed of tremendous treasure in which they are trusting to “redeem them,”—to buy them independent political status. Third, they will have established their own worship in their own temple, with daily sacrifices, offerings, etc. Fourth, there will be a godly remnant living in Jerusalem and Palestine—though the mass of the nation will be apostate—who will sustain the fear of Jehovah, and His worship. Fifth, this worship will be interrupted by intrusion from without (according to Daniel 9:27), by a power in which the majority of the nation have a frightful confidence, according to Isaiah 28:15: “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol are we at agreement … We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” This can be nothing else than a conscious and intelligent recognition of the source and nature of the first Beast; for he is “the beast that cometh up out of the abyss.” He will be a spirit from the lost world who will be allowed to come back on earth for Satan’s purposes. Indeed, he will be one of the seven former emperors of Rome, according to Revelation 17:8, 10, 11. Here, then, is Jewish worship suddenly interrupted, not by a Christ who has arisen among them, but by the last prince of the Roman Empire (Daniel 9:27) who, as we shall find in studying Revelation 13 and 17, is Satan’s counterpart and counterfeit of the risen Christ, having been “slain (margin Greek) unto death” and his “death-stroke was healed” (Revelation 13:3) to the amazement of the world. It will not do to call this “death-stroke” the fall of the Roman Empire.

7. We should remember also that Satan offered Christ “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Matthew 4:8), if He would worship him. Our Lord refused, but another will accept, and receive these kingdoms (Revelation 13:7, 8).

But this is the first Beast and not the second! Our Lord Jesus Christ, we know, will finally take over the kingdoms of this world. “All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him” (Psalm 72:11). What else but a king was Christ to be? “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king, then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest it, because I am a king (margin Greek). To this end have I been born.”

Consequently, we see in Revelation 19:19, “the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army.” What is this but Antichrist? It is the awful climax of intelligent opposition to the Lamb: “These (the ten kings and the beast) shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).

So that Mr. Darby’s words quoted under point 2, express the exact truth!

To call the Antichrist merely an ecclesiastical deceiver of the Jewish nation, is not to fill the scripture account of this monstrous being, who sets himself above all that is called God,—to whom the second beast is merely the “false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight” (Revelation 19:20). This “prophet” is always at the Beast’s side,—working in his presence.

8. The voice of history and tradition calls to us that the Antichrist and the last Roman emperor are to be identical. Victorinus, voicing an impression that was very common in early Christian centuries, says, “Nero will be raised from the dead, appear again at Rome and persecute the Church once more, and finally be destroyed by the Messiah.” Augustine first mentioned this idea concerning Nero. Even Tacitus, the Roman historian, spoke of many believing rumors about Nero’s possible return (Hist. II. 8; 1, 2). Sulpicius Severus said, “It is current opinion of many that he (Nero) is yet to come as Antichrist.” Note carefully, we are not insisting at all that Nero will be the Antichrist, but that the early Christians believed that a Roman imperial persecutor, possibly Nero, would be the Antichrist.

9. We are distinctly told in 2 Thessalonians 2 that “the man of sin” will be brought to nought by “the forth-shining of our Lord’s arrival” (Rotherham’s Translation, 2 Thessalonians 2:8). The Greek words are,“te epiphaneia tes parousias autou” Our Lord’s coming (parousia) opens with the rapture of the Church.86

Note the exact meaning of the word in Philippians 2:12, “As ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence (apousia).” Now, we know from Revelation 19:20, 21, that it will be at our Lord’s manifestation as described in Revelation 19:11-16, that this last World emperor will be brought to nought. Indeed, the lake of fire, long prepared, is at that time, according to Isaiah 30:33, to be “made ready” for him!

We are compelled, therefore, to view the future as filled with one great figure; although, as we shall see, the second beast will be “exercising all the authority of the first beast in his sight”; he is the active agent by means of Satanic signs and wonders, (done where the first Beast is,) in turning the worship of the earth to the man whose name is set forth by those numerals that express all that man in himself can be, or do, energized by Satan—“Six hundred and sixty and six.” We feel that the first Beast must be called the Antichrist.87

In brief review, we find Revelation 13 to reveal:

1. As to Satan:

        A. His hatred toward God and toward His saints.

        B. His peculiar rage at being cast from heaven to earth.

        C. His deadly ambition to be worshipped as God.

        D. His copying God’s plan: of a “Christ,” or one fully empowered, under his control, through whom to work; and then of an agent or “prophet” of that false Christ, who will carry directly into effect the Satanic program; and of astonishing miraculous energy to accredit before the world his system and himself. (All this God calls “the lie” in 2 Thessalonians 2:11—Greek.)

2. As to Man:

        A. Man’s willingness to lose his own soul to gain the whole world (as do these “beasts,” who are human beings).

        B. Man’s desire, from the fall onward, to “be as gods.”

        C. The finale of man’s refusing to “have God in his knowledge,” and his turning to the “likeness of an image of corruptible man” (Romans 1).

        D. The development by man to the full of that final form of economic life, godless international commercialism, by which man falls into Satan’s steel-trap: they can “neither buy nor sell,” except they have the beast’s (that is, Satan’s) mark.

3. As to God:

        A. The inexorable, unescapable, righteous operation of God that “gives up” such to believe an eternal damning falsehood (2 Thessalonians 2).

        B. The bringing upon the earth of the “third woe,” “The Great Tribulation”; because of which, except, for His elect’s sake, God had “shortened the days,” no flesh would be saved! (Mark 13:19, 20).

        C. God’s infinite unconquerable grace, which preserves His saints, with “patience and faith” even in those frightful days (Revelation 13:8-10).

We must read and ponder these scenes of Revelation 13; as we hope to be protected from the last-day errors; as we hope to understand the prophetic Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments; as we desire to “escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

For all the forces of hell that head up in Revelation 13 are marshalling in public or in secret today!

While it is most interesting to seek to identify this second beast, it will perhaps be better, to discover the general plan of Satan, in turning the world from the worship of God to the worship of himself—for this is what he seeks.

Satan’s creed concerning man, and the way to manage man, is plainly seen in the first two chapters of Job, and may be summed up in Job 2:4: “Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” And we all know this to be true, except concerning God’s elect, in whom are the operations of the infinite power of divine grace. “They loved not their life even unto death” (Revelation 12:11).

Satan will take advantage of this “self-preservation law”; and, while on the one hand exhibiting vast miracles, and uttering unheard of blasphemy against God, through his great final agent (the first Beast), he will also, by the second, drive men into the desperate alternative of accepting his Christ, or being refused sustenance on the earth; no man shall be able to buy or sell without the mark of the Beast stamped upon him, upon his body.

We read from chapter 14:9-11, this means eternal damnation! So that what takes place in Russia, of blasphemy, coercion, persecution and death, is but a small whisper, is but a feeble portent, of what will be worldwide under the fearful trinity of evil, Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet.88

Satan’s own Prophet now springs the double jaws of the Great Dragon’s awful steel-trap on the souls of men. Between the jaw of damning miracle-backed soul-delusion, and the jaw of bodily self-preservation, man is caught! He cannot escape if he would, for he must eat to live on this earth; and he would not escape if he could, for, like the flame-dazzled moth, he has fallen in blinded worship at the feet of his destroyer! No pen of any language can describe a doom so awful, a fate so fearful!

Human science and philosophy are in the dust: for here is a being returned from past history, from the unseen realm of the dead—and how can man’s puny wisdom cope with this? And here is a breathing image—speaking, no one knows how! Men fall in worship. And to crown the terror, this fearsome image is able relentlessly to slay those who refuse it homage. Where, then, are man’s boasted powers, his vaunted progress? Vanished, gone forever! The whole world has fallen below the level of the African fetish-worshipper. The whole world has fallen flat before mysteries it cannot even dare to seek to solve! Men will know they are worshipping the Devil; and, being given up to believe the lie, they will actually be content and confident to abandon their intelligence and all their natural God-given judgment, and have their consciences murdered. Nay, they will delight to do all this. There never will have been a day so certain of itself as the day that receives Satan’s Christ! Reason confronted by Satanic miracle, will abdicate her throne to credulity. “All power and signs and lying wonders” said Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2. They “shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the very elect,” says the Lord in Matthew 24.

And then “the mark of the beast” or “the number of his name,” branded in the flesh of men, on forehead or right hand—what fearful tyranny!

Yet men dream they are free! While God says of them in 1 John 5:19, “The whole world lieth in the evil one.” Men hate preachers who tell them this today, but they will shortly find whose slaves they are—all they who are not born of God, God’s elect.

And then eternal doom follows! God will graciously and most solemnly and strikingly warn of this, by sending a loud-crying angel over all the lands (Revelation 14:9-11), announcing in every tongue that those who worship the Beast and receive this fatal mark of hell on the forehead or hand, shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and that “the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever.”

The fearful guilt of this apostasy to Satan and his Christ, is seen in its punishment. No unwitting sin is this; but wilful revolt to hell from all the love of heaven. It will be a world that has heard and rejected the Gospel that will fall into Satan’s steel-trap. “A savor from death unto death; to the other a savor from life unto life,” the Gospel of grace ever is. “Let us break their (God’s and Christ’s) bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us”—this is the cry of the raging nations of those terrible days. It is “against Jehovah, and against his anointed” that they thus “set themselves” and “take counsel.”

“Cease ye from man.” His pride is folly; his wisdom is foolishness; his freedom is bondage; his “program” is rebellion; his “progress,” delusion. All his thoughts are, “There is no God”!

As to the man whom the number “Six hundred and sixty and six” represents, God will give full “understanding” when it is needed, in those three and half years of horror and danger. He has never failed His saints. The Church saints will not be there (as we have seen), but many there will be who “worshipped not the beast … and received not the mark” (Revelation 20:4). And they will know and understand this man. His number will be plain then, for it is the number of a man. Those who “keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” will all have divinely given wisdom in this matter.

Probably the marking out of this terrible Satan-Christ has been hinted at all through the Christian centuries; even as John says, “As ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). Irenaeus reminds us that the word Latin, spelled with Greek letters Lateinos (which Alford shows “would be the usual way of writing the long T by the Greeks of the time”) makes Six hundred and sixty-six in their numerical value. Others have called attention to the same fact concerning Nero Caesar, spelled in Hebrew. Many other remarkable tracings have been made through the years, as if Satan were ever seeking to bring forth his “man of destiny”; but (as is actually true) ever being hindered by God’s restraining action, as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2. It is startling in our own days to see the number, Six hundred sixty-six used boldly for advertising commercial products! Godless commercialism will be the final flood which rushes down the Devil’s sluiceway, to be dammed and governed by the Beast and his Prophet to control all men. The mathematical probability, that the number, Six hundred sixty-six should be selected by chance in such advertising, is too remote to consider.

Now, concerning the present state of preparation for that “universal monopoly” by which Satan, through his two terrible agents, will control the bodies and souls of men, much may be seen in our own day! Modern invention and industrialism has brought into being vast properties and holdings such as railroads, automobile companies, radio corporations, utilities of all sorts; which, finding competition unprofitable, have formed and are reforming combinations of ever greater extent. This enables private men of outstanding ability to manage and control more real power than many of the smaller governments! Plutocracy has come into its own! A world-bank and world-coinage are at hand.

We also see in our times the rapid and resistless accumulation of capital prophesied in James 5 (R. V.), “Ye (rich) have laid up your treasure in the last days.” Communism will not succeed in crushing capital utterly, as it so fondly hopes. For Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar as to the final form of Gentile government, “There shall be in it of the strength of the iron,” though “mixed” with “earthenware.”89

“Internationalism” (Satan’s own darling plan) is supposed even by many preachers, ignorant of God’s Word, to be human large-mindedness. But God formed nations, and set “the bounds of their habitation,” as well as “their appointed seasons” (Acts 17:26). And it was as a judgment upon earth-unification that nations came to be at Babel: “Jehovah, said, Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this (their self-idolatrous tower) is what they begin to do: and now nothing (in the way of rebellious pride and sin) will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:6, 7). Yet a “world-language” has been what men have been seeking to invent ever since! The idea is inspired of hell. Since Babel it is unnatural sin for a man to forget patriotism, and talk about world-stuff! Leave that to the atheists, the Communists. (The Christian rises above all earthly things, indeed, in Christ risen: but yet Paul said, “I am a Roman,” and, “I am a citizen of Tarsus—no mean city.” The loveliest Christians we have known were glad to reveal their God-given love for their own land!)

In Russia the tyranny of monopoly is in flower. One can hardly buy or sell, except he abjure God with the atheistic Soviets. In America, that capitalism (which the Soviets profess to hate) is none the less stealing the liberty of the poor man, or the small-business-man, quietly away. And no one but Christ (at His second coming) will ever deliver the oppressed (Isaiah 11; Psalms 72:14).

It is the story of history that man never, except by revolution, recovers lost freedom. And then it is only by selling something more precious than what is gained!

Chapter XII
The 144,000 On Mt. Zion

Revelation 14:1-5

There are seven distinct sections in Revelation 14:

1. The Vision of the One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand (verses 1-5).

2. The Angel Proclaiming the Eternal Gospel (verses 6, 7).

3. The Prophetic Announcement of Great Babylon’s Fall (verse 8).

4. The Angelic Warning of the Eternal Doom of the Beast-worshippers (verses 9-12).

5. The Proclamation of the Especial Blessedness of those who should “die in the Lord” from that time (verse 13).

6. The Vision of the Harvest of the Earth (verses 14-16).

7. The Vision of the Vine of the Earth and the Winepress of Blood (verses 17-20).

To outline the chapter in brief:

1. The Lamb’s 144,000 seen in contrast to the nations and Antichrist.

2. The six “other” angels and their messages.

3. The two “sharp sickles” and what they reap.

The Vision of the One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand

And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth. These are they that were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, to be the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish.

This is one of the most remarkable scenes, in every way, of The Revelation thus far.

The “servants of our God” whom the angel sealed on their foreheads in chapter 7:2-8, before any “hurt” should come, are here seen with the Lamb, having, like those three in the fiery furnace, passed through the fearful divine judgments unharmed (see 9:4), and then through the horrors of the forty-two months of Antichrist (chapter 13). They are seen on Mount Zion, the selected seat of the glorious earthly reign of one thousand years, of Christ and His saints.

The 144,000 Of Chapter Fourteen— Who Are They?

      I. Are they the sealed company of Israelites of chapter 7?

(1) The number 144,000 agrees. (2) They and these in chapter 14 are sealed on their foreheads. (3) They stand on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. (4) They pass through the time of trouble, are victorious, etc.

      II. Are they specially devoted saints from all the ages?

(1) The repetition of the number 144,000, one of governmental completeness and fulness, is not necessarily conclusive proof that the two companies are one and the same. (2) Those in chapter 14 are indeed sealed on their foreheads, but the form of the seal is the Lamb’s name and the name of His Father; whereas those of chapter 7 were sealed as “the bondservants of our God.” (3) Those in chapter 14 were “purchased out of the earth”: they are not said to be of Israel’s tribes. (4) They are all men (14:4): note the double statement “not defiled with women,” and “virgins.” (5) They are therefore Nazarites unto God, having forsworn even lawful things for a separate walk. (6) They “were purchased from among men, the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb” (14:4). (7) They were absolutely truthful: consequently, “without blemish.” (8) They “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

We will give certain further comments concerning this company, not seeking dogmatically to assert, however, that they are the Israelites of chapter 7, though they seem to be these.

For, although we have thus spoken of them, we cannot but leave the question open for further light. Because, in all other Scripture we can recall, Israel’s victors are always named as belonging to that elect nation, and the favor of God is seen as arising from that national election. Whereas, these of Revelation 14 do not have that mark, but rather seem to be from a larger circle than Israel—even “from among men”; and their peculiar distinction appears to be a reward for their utter self-abnegation. As Dean Alford says, “We are perhaps more like that which the Lord intended us to be; but they are more like the Lord Himself.” Only let it be remembered, a “greater” place is given, in sovereign grace, to the Body of Christ: as our Lord spoke regarding John, in Matthew 11:11.

They are the “firstfruits” of the millennial reign. They connect the dispensations—somewhat as Noah did, who passed through the judgment of the flood into a new order of things. Therefore, the Lamb is seen standing on Mount Zion (before He actually conies there, as in Revelation 19 and Psalm 2), that with Him may be seen this overcoming host, who will very shortly share His actual reign there.90

Seven things are told us of this amazing company.

1. They had written on their foreheads the Name of the Lamb, and the Name of His Father! In marvelous manner they were thus blessedly blazoned out, that all might see! It proclaimed their ownership—they were the
Lamb’s and His Father’s. It exhibited their character—they were Nazarites to God, and His holy ones forever. It announced their destiny—they were to be associated
wholly with the Lamb whom they had wholly chosen! Beautiful badge of blessedness!

Now, no one who thoughtfully reads chapters 13 and 14, together, can avoid the profound conviction that these, with the Lamb’s and His Father’s Name in their foreheads, are set before us in direct contrast with those who took in their foreheads the name or number of Satan’s awful Christ.91

This earth will at last learn what the words mean, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve!” Of course the Church is not in this scene—cannot be. But how instructive all is for us in a day when darkness is put for light, and light for darkness! And how it thrills our hearts to know that God can triumph as easily in such days as Revelation 14 portrays, as in our own days. Grace enabled Enoch to walk with God while the earth was ripening for judgment; and grace enabled Noah to pass safely through the judgment!

2. This 144,000 (and no others) could learn and sing the “new song” that burst forth “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: … of harpers harping with their harps.”

A “new song” was begun in Revelation 5:9, 10, upon the Lamb’s taking the seven-sealed book of judgment, and in celebration of His worthiness to do so, and in view of the earthly “kingdom of priests” He thus made possible. The angels, and then all creation, celebrated thus Him that sat upon the throne and the Lamb.

Here in Revelation 14, we are not told the words of the “new song.” But we know it was of rapturous, thunderous exultation. All heaven has been looking forward eagerly to it. It is connected directly with the setting up of the glorious reign on earth: for the prophetic appearance of the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000 is the signal for it. Only one other event outdoes it in the rapture it gives to heaven, and that is the marriage of the Lamb, in chapter 19. Therefore we ought to wait here; to let our hearts be filled full, as it were, with the spirit of this song and its occasion. If we are in tune with heaven, what gives heaven such ecstasy, must move us deeply!

To those who have followed, in the prophets, the story of “the remnant,” noting all God’s love, His earthly purposes of blessing, His sympathy through their sorrows, in their sorrows (for, “in all their affliction he was afflicted”), His promises to them for the hideous days of the end—to such, the scene that opens Revelation 14, is a delight indescribable!

Into the heavenly song that now breaks, and swells on with its many “harpers harping with their harps” no one of earth could enter in spirit. Why? These 144,000 souls have passed through fire, have dwelt among lions—to be faithful! So, in their measure, have all those saints who have “suffered with Christ.” After the troubles are over, and the Lord is come, and the kingdom set up in glory and majesty and power, on Mount Zion, and the Lord is “King over all the earth,” and the thousand years of peace are come, it will no longer be possible to learn the song that these will learn—the song of absolute fellowship with the Lamb in suffering.

Ah, how much we miss! “All that would (will) live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). There is a will here. Do we choose to suffer with Christ, that we may also reign with Him?

The Millennium, the peaceful days—how lovely they seem to us! But ah, how much more will this 144,000 know (though they are earthly saints) than others whether of Israel, or of the Gentile nations! Christ Himself, “though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” God is infinite; and there are things of God, and in God, that only suffering gives the capacity to know! And the days are coming, when suffering for and with Christ will be forever over. Oh, let us listen when God tells us that this suffering remnant, while remaining earthly saints (and not having died, though being at the gates of death constantly, under Antichrist) learn that new song that will be sung “before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders.” No one else on earth will know it, or can know it!92

3. “They had been purchased out of the earth.” That is, though being men on earth, they are not, properly, in the earth. Neither do they belong to heaven—though they learn, and can sing, the song that is being sung there. They have been “purchased.” They belong only to the Lamb and to His Father. They will be connected with the Lamb’s earthly rule and reign. They will therefore have their sphere on earth; but it will be manifest publicly that they have been purchased out of the earth. This, in reality, is true of Christians, now! Yet we are to remain among men, for Christ, as witnesses, and are bound up in many proper earthly relationships and responsibilities. But not these 144,000! They will have manifestly been bought away from earth entirely. We look for a body like to Christ’s heavenly body—a higher state than these. But these will be men in human flesh with the open seal of the Lamb and of His Father upon their foreheads! Their history looks three ways:

        a. It is the elect remnant of the old nation of Israel.

        b. It looks forward to that “receiving” of Israel in the 1000 years that shall be “as life from the dead” (Romans 11:15).

        c. It is in touch with heaven—it knows the song sung there!

Most wonderful counsels are those of God! And what a day it will be, when the Lamb of God returns to reign gloriously! What a day—with the Church in the heaven-lies (instead of the angels—Hebrews 2:5-8), with the twelve apostles (Matthias in Judas’ place) on thrones judging (as those with heavenly wisdom) the twelve tribes of Israel; with the Lord, the Lamb, as their returned Messiah, delighted in as the King in His beauty, the King of Israel; with the mountain of the Lord’s House (Zion) raised above all hills of earth, the wondrous temple of Ezekiel 40-48 upon it, and all the nations coming up to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts! And Christ, the Bridegroom saying to us, “Behold, thou art all fair My love, there is no spot in thee!” And all about us, at that time, these personal attendants of the Lamb, who follow Him “whithersoever He goeth”!

4. The fourth particular revealed regarding this company of 144,000 is, “These are they that were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.”

Now there is one way only to take these words, and that is, in their literal sense. To do this aright, we must compare Scripture with Scripture: for the opinions or prejudices of men must not be allowed here.

And first, let us remember again, that we are not dealing with Church things or with Church days. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled,” we read in Hebrews 13:4. And again, Paul directs Timothy, “I desire therefore (in view of the tendencies described in 1 Timothy 5:14) that the younger (women) marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling.” And concerning himself (1 Corinthians 9:5), “Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” And even in 1 Corinthians 7:1, 7, 8 where Paul declares, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. … I would that all men were even as I myself. … It is good for them if they abide even as I,” he proceeds with the plainest directions for life in the marriage relation; which, even for those saints who are so desirous of prayer as to separate themselves “by consent for a season,” is yet the normal and safe relation in which to continue.

Yet we must, as the days grow darker, weigh well the apostle’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:25-31. These days are evil. “Distress” is upon us. The apostle uses the fact here to counsel the saints to ponder well the steps they take. “The time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives be as though they had none; and those that weep (especially in bereavement, evidently), as though they wept not; and those that rejoice (especially in domestic bliss), as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use the world, as not using it to the full: for the stage scenery of this world is passing away!”

It is not to be with us (since our Lord and Head and Bridegroom is absent, rejected) as it was with Israel when they were told by Jehovah to enter Canaan and sit peacefully under their vines and fig trees. This world hates us as it hated Christ. Nor is it with us as it will be when our Lord returns, and the meek shall at last inherit the earth. All is really present distress! Christ is off His throne. The Church is away from her Bridegroom. Israel is out of her land. The servants have not yet their rewards. Satan is yet in the heavenlies. Creation yet groans. Christ has not yet seen of the travail of His soul, and been satisfied.

But if “distress” is upon us, so that we are to use earth-things “as though we used them not,” what will be the condition of those shortly to pass into The Great Tribu- lation—the elect remnant of Israel, the 144,000? If, even now, the apostle can say, “Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife” (1 Corinthians 7:27), what would he say to those of the days of which the Lord said: “Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! … For then shall be great tribulation such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:19, 21).

But not merely in the wisdom of avoiding the complexities of days of distress, do these 144,000 appear. They are complete Nazarites unto God, as touching their relation to women. They are as was their Lord. The explanation given us is explicit: “They are virgins. Because of the awful doctrine of Rome (really of demons, 1 Timothy 4:2, 3), which forbids to marry, earnest students of Scripture have feared, or at least failed, to let the plain words of the Lord and His apostles have their simplest meaning—that it may be “given” of God to some men to abstain from the marriage relation, not from tradition or bondage, but to be the more peculiarly separated, in some service, unto Him. Only those thus divinely led and gifted, our Lord plainly says, in Matthew 19:11, 12, can “receive this saying.” Also, the connection with the kingdom is quite striking here in Matthew, though Paul speaks of the same “gift” in 1 Corinthians 7:7, 17.

But in the fearful days of abandonment “as in the days of Noah”—when lust and violence will again fill the whole earth (as we see beginning now!) how wonderful to behold this company of 144,000 who have chosen to be entirely separated unto the Lamb and unto His Father, and who are thus, despite the days!

5. “These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” Let us again remember that they are not the Church, which, as the wife of the Lamb, has a wholly different and closer relationship than any others can have. But these are the personal attendants—the bodyguard, so to speak, of the Lamb. Their movements with Him “whithersoever he goeth” remind us of that absolute one- ness of mind and movement of the cherubim (with Jehovah enthroned) of Ezekiel 1. Remember also the devotedness of David’s mighty men, who may well typify these: for both are connected with the throne of David—on Mount Zion.

6. The next word about this 144,000 is that they were “purchased from among men, the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb.”

Now James tells us that the Church saints now are “a kind of firstfruits” of God’s “creatures.” Paul definitely says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (or creation); and this is the great fact to be held by us in our walk, by the rule of a new creation (Galatians 6:15, 16 R. V.).

We must discriminate here in Revelation 14:4. “First-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb” are kingdom words; and not mere salvation words. The “Church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12) has already gone up on high; the millennial things are not yet come, the kingdom is not yet set up. But this 144,000 belong to that kingdom (as is seen at once by their being with the Lamb on Mount Zion). Marvelous wonder of God’s grace and keeping power: they come alive through the fire of Antichrist’s days, to walk as “firstfruits” into the 1000 years—an

earnest-purchase from among men for the reign of heaven on earth! And “firstfruits” mean that harvest is on! The sight of this 144,000 should remind us that “life from the dead” for the world is made doubly sure by this preserved remnant, just as its promise is connected with the national receiving of Israel. Read Romans 11:15.

7. And finally we read: “In their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish.”

The days of Antichrist were days of falsehood. His miracles are called in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “signs and lying wonders” (Greek, pseudos). And it is there said that because they received not the love of the truth God sent them “a working of error that they should believe the lie” (Greek, to pseudei). “The Lie” is that Satan is God, and that the Beast is his Christ and to be wor- shipped. The gulfs of deceit of damnation are opened wide! All is pseudos, pseudos, on every side.

But in the mouth of this 144,000, we read, was found “no lie.” And the Greek word is, no pseudos!

Now when we turn to Zephaniah 3:13, and read the description of the remnant of Israel after the Millennium has begun, we find: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid”—we are at once reminded of those great passages in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, which describe in detail the manner of God’s salvation which He will visit upon the saved of Israel in millennial times. “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it” (Jeremiah). “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Now all this must be literally fulfilled for Israel. This is no description of our salvation—which is that ye are in Christ; Christ is in you; and the indwelling Spirit would “form Christ” within you. But this prophetic utterance describes the fulfilment by restored Israel of “every jot and tittle of the law” before the “heaven and earth pass away”—as they must do at the close of the 1000 years (Revelation 20).

These firstfruits, therefore, of Israel, this 144,000, are “without blemish” (Revelation 14:5). They are a public example and pledge of what the “all-righteous” nation of Israel will be in the Millennium! What will happen to Israel has already happened to them! “Without blemish” —men on earth in the flesh!

Brethren, we have no excuses to make for dwelling thus upon this 144,000. To understand prophecy is to become absorbed (amidst other wonders) with what God has said He will do to, and through, the remnant of Israel!

And we would the more magnify Jehovah’s promises concerning Israel and the coming thousand years’ reign of Christ “before his ancients gloriously” (A. V.), because some who claim loudly to be “fundamentalists” either deny Israel’s future glory wholly or resort to some poor word like “a-millennialism,”—that is, no Millennium.

In the rest of Revelation 14, God witnesses publicly by six angels against the awful state of things brought about by Antichrist in chapter 13, and prophetically pictures the fast coming judgment in the two sickles.

Chapter XIII
The Six “Other” Angels

Revelation 14:6-20

And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven, having eternal good tidings to proclaim unto them that dwell on the earth, and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he saith with a great voice, Fear God, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.

This is a gospel, not an announcement of doom, as is verse 8; although there is no record that it is believed or heeded. It may not be. Noah was a “preacher of righteousness,” in view of the coming flood; but no one believed him except his own family. This gospel is called (and here alone in the whole Bible) an eternal gospel; one adapted for all ages (the adjective is aionion, that is, “constantly befitting,” “everlastingly applicable”). But it is peculiarly so at the hour when the whole earth, except God’s elect, are madly and blindly worshipping the Beast and his image (Revelation 13:8). And it must be constantly remembered that the days of the Antichrist are on, from chapter 13 through 18—despite prophetic visions of both the coming victory and kingdom of Christ, and of the Great Day of Wrath which shall bring that kingdom in. Universal idolatry, hideous, unreasonable, absurd, God-provoking, as it is, will fill the earth during the time of our present chapter. Slavish, abject prostration before an image of the most wicked man of the human race, with its consequent obliteration of the glory of the Creator, will prevail, even among the majority of Israel (Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 28:15).

God created man in “his own image”; but six times in Revelation the worship of the Beast is described as directed to “his image.”

Now this hateful thing idolatry is called in Romans 1:23, changing “the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man.” And the fact is that this departure was wilful, as seen in Romans 1:20, “The invisible things of him since the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity.”

We see then at once a most cogent reason for calling this message an eternal gospel; for it is the recalling of men to the fear of the living God as Creator, and giving Him worship; inasmuch as He is the One who hath “made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.”

In the midst of the multitude of utterances by the Old Testament prophets as to God’s anger at idolatry, one stands out like a flash of lightning in a blackening sky. It is the single Aramaic verse in the great Hebrew prophecy of Jeremiah—(Aramaic or Syrian being the language of the nations, over and against God’s language, the Hebrew)—Jeremiah 10:11, “Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens.”

Now we find an angel flying in mid heaven proclaiming this eternal gospel. This should not astonish us. It is then no longer the Church age, when the gospel of reconciliation through the blood of the Cross is being proclaimed for simple faith. (How astonishing that any Christian should dream that the true Church is on earth at the time we are considering!) Angels warned Lot in Sodom and rescued him there from doom. The Law on Sinai was ministered by angels (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19) and especially by one—possibly Michael (Exodus 23:20-23; 33:2). Jehovah distinctly declares of this angel “my name is in him,” although Moses was not permitted to know him (Exodus 33:12).

The very name “angel,” both in Hebrew and Greek, means “messenger,” and an angel from God is one with a message or commission from Him. Therefore we do not wonder that when universal idolatry prevails, man having refused to harken to the preachers of the gospel of grace, and God having withdrawn them by the rapture of the Church, he will declare this eternal gospel by the mouth of a mighty angel, who, flying “in mid heaven” all over the earth, will proclaim to every creature, in words understandable, and unmistakable, that the hour of God’s judgment has come; bidding men turn quickly to the Creator of them, and of all things!

The Prophetic Announcement of Great Babylon’s Fall And another, a second angel, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Babylon occupies much notice in Scripture but chapters 17 and 18 are devoted to it. Here, however, let us note:

1. Babylon has been the center of Satan’s operations from the flood onward; idolatry as far as we have any knowledge began there; and the Babylonian system was extended to all the nations, being Satan’s plan to destroy the knowledge and worship of Jehovah; substituting therefore himself.

2. We find here the pregnant expression concerning Babylon the great, “The wine of the wrath of her fornication.” These are three distinct subjects. First, in Jeremiah 51:7 we read, “Babylon hath been a golden cup in Jehovah’s hand that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.” It is the madness of Babylon’s idolatry that is described in Jeremiah 50:38: “It is a land of graven images, and they are mad over idols.” This was Babylon’s wine. Next, we have in Jeremiah 25:15, the wine of wrath, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath at my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee, to drink it.” Loving the creature rather than the Creator, and idolatry rather than God, God gave them over to the system of Babylonian Satanism that brought God’s wrath upon them.93

Thirdly, the last subject is “fornication.” Remember this, when we study Revelation 17:1-5 and 18:3.

3. “Fallen, fallen” indicates coming double destruction, as Revelation 17 and 18 will show: of a system, then of a city.

The idolatry which originated at Babylon will yet bring wrath on all the nations, and lastly cast Babylon down to the doom of Sodom. See Jeremiah 50:40—yet future, we believe.

The Angelic Warning of the Eternal Doom of the Beast-worshippers

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

God’s faithful warning comes again by the mouth of an angel, and that “with a great voice.” Not only that the Beast’s rebuilt capital city Babylon is to “fall”—is fallen, in God’s vision, but that unending torment awaits the Beast’s worshippers.

What a fearful “hour of trial” is coming on the earth! (Revelation 3:10). Note that to involve the torment of verses 10 and 11, one will not only have “worshipped” the Beast or his image, but have deliberately taken his mark —shut out all God’s warnings, and chosen Satan’s Christ.

Now see what God at last justly does:

1. He withdraws all mercy forever—the wine of His wrath that these shall drink will be “unmixed,” unmingled with any compassion whatsoever.

2. It will be in “the cup of his anger” that His wrath will be served out to them. The impenitent daily and hourly “treasure up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath”: but God withholds His anger. He waits. He suffers long and is kind. But—“who may stand in Thy sight when once thou art angry?” (Psalm 76:7); Consider an Infinite Being “willing” (at last) “to show His wrath and make His power known.” Consider His words, “Vengeance is mine: I will repay.” The same verse that says “love is strong as death” declares “jealousy is cruel as Sheol.” The creature of this human race for whom His Son died who turns his back on the God whose name is Love, and chooses His enemy, the old serpent and murderer—God plainly tells us what He will do with him! He shall have “indignation forever”!

3. Consider the carefully described means of visitation upon such: “tormented with fire and brimstone.” Brimstone is the most terrible substance known in its action upon human flesh—in its torment when it touches the body. Combined with fire it is absolute agony, unutterable anguish! And it is meant to be so: for it will be the infliction of divine vengeance unlimited.

4. Consider the onlookers: “In the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb”! Vast, “innumerable hosts,” of those holy servants of God who watched the fearful choice of these now doomed humans, for whom, to the angelic astonishment, the Son of God once tasted death,—men that hated love and despised holiness: all the countless millions of angels are there, in deep, awful and holy approval of the divine sentence,— for their God hath done this! And in the presence of the Lamb! Oh, where in the universe is such a sight? Mercy is gone forever if the Lamb stands there: and He will!94

5. Consider the duration: “The smoke of their torment (compare Genesis 19:24, 28) goeth up for ever and ever.”95 And its unceasingness: “They have no rest day and night.” Let God speak. Let us be still, and believe, and fear. The wickedness of those who even think rebellion against the eternal retribution described thus plainly by God, will become so great as to ruin all faith in God’s Word. It is not your right to question. “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! a potsherd among the potsherds of the earth!” (Isaiah 45:9).

6. Finally, behold the marks of God’s patient elect, “the saints,” in contrast with these self-doomed and damned rebels. God will have His witnesses, in every scene of man’s sin. These, of course, are not the Church. They are God’s “elect” of Luke 18:1-8, who will cry for avenging from the adversary, in that awful time of trouble,—the remnant of Israel and those who help them. They are marked by “keeping the commandments of God,” for they are on Old Testament ground yet, as to law. And they have also “the faith of Jesus,” which is the earthly, Jewish confession of Him, according to Matthew’s gospel. What they show, preeminently, is “patience.” They must wait, and suffer, and still wait; as the Lord saith in Luke 21:19: “In your patience ye shall win your souls.”

Saints’ Death Best!

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.

Never before could such a word be spoken! Always it had been better, heretofore, to live out the full time of a saint’s pilgrimage on earth: both for the sake of others, and for the learning of obedience by daily divine discipline. Now, however, the fearful days of Antichrist are on! Death is better than life, and for two reasons here announced by the Spirit:

1. Rest will be entered upon from their labors. The word here is hinain order that they may rest. Rest is; at last obtainable in no other way but by death. When our Lord said to the mob led by Judas in Gethsemane, “This is your hour, and the authority of darkness” (Luke 22:53—Greek), He contrasted that hour with “when I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched not forth
your hands against me.” No wonder the next words are, “And they seized him.” There was no path then open to Him but death, if He would come home to His Father. And there is a like hour coming on the whole world
(Revelation 3:10). He (the Beast) shall “wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:7). Not a life of discipline
under God’s hand (as now) but death, (and doubtless with tortures such as only ages of Satanic malignity make possible), will be the lot of the faithful of those days—those “in the Lord.” Rest, therefore, will come only
through dying!

Neither will it be, as now with us, that they can expect the Lord at any moment. Prophetic times will be known then, and just how much of the 42 months is left!

2. The second reason that those will be “blessed” who die “in the Lord” at that time, is—that their works accompany them. Four times in this very chapter the Greek work ranslated “follow” (aboloutheo) is used: in verse 4, “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth”; in verse 8, “a second angel followed”; in verse 9, “a third, followed them.” It is the word used of the disciples and multitudes “following,” in accompanying our Lord (Matthew 4:25; 8:1, etc.). So that we see that these are the last martyrs, in Revelation 14:13. They are seen as the third company of the reigners with Christ, in Revelation 20:6.96 They get a higher place than those, even of Israel, who merely “inherit the kingdom” as in Matthew 25:31-46.

Notice that John is called to write, here. It is of especial importance, therefore,—to be laid to heart in particular. And while verse 13 of our chapter has always a precious application to the death of any saint, it is only these last martyrs to whom the Word is directly addressed. “From henceforth” is a definite time-mark. (It is aparti, as in Matthew 23:39, and 26:29, 64.) It denotes a change of circumstances and conditions; and literally is: “from now.”

The Vision of the Harvest of the Earth

And I saw, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud one sitting like unto a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

And another angel came out from the temple, crying with a great voice to him that sat on the cloud, Send forth thy sickle, and reap: for the hour to reap is come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

And he that sat on the cloud cast his sickle upon the earth; and the earth was reaped.

It is, we have no doubt, the Lord Jesus who is set forth here; but we must attend, in interpreting a passage, to what that passage sets forth. Then we compare it with other Scriptures. And thus we see here:

1. The “white cloud.” This is the first object brought before the Seer’s eyes.

2. One is sitting upon the cloud. Although He “mak- eth the clouds his chariot” and will come thereon, it is His position, not His movement, here noticed.

3. This Sitter appears as a son of man. There is no note here of the marvellous display of glory which our Lord always emphasized as attending His return as Son of man (Matthew 24:30; Mark 8:38, etc.). The fact that this One who is to reap the earth is a son of man, is alone set forth. But compare the words of our Lord in John 5:22, 27: the Father “hath given all judgment unto the Son; that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father: … and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.” (Do not read “the son of man,” here, or you will miss the meaning.)

4. On the head of Him sitting on the cloud is a golden crown. The mere fact that He is sitting as a God-appointed King, is indicated—His royal right, for He will come as Son of man, and inherit all dominion as such. Psalm 8:6 will be fulfilled.

5. “In his hand a sharp sickle.” Not the glory of His person, or the process of His coming, but the fact that He is ready with a reaping instrument, is here emphasized. Rights over the harvest, (whatever the harvest is to be) are manifest. “Thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing grain,” said the law. Therefore, He is to reap a field over which He has authority. Now, it is striking to discover that the “sickle” is mentioned just twelve times in the Bible, and seven of these are in our verses here! Also that the Greek word translated “sharp” (oxus) occurs seven times in The Revelation: four times describing the sickle here, and three times, that two-edged sword which proceeds from the Lord’s mouth for searching judgment. Inasmuch, therefore, as all after Revelation 4:1, as regards Church matters is meta tauta, or “after these things”; and inasmuch as the preserved remnant of 144,000 is seen before this (in 7 and 14:1-5); and inasmuch as the martyrs under the Beast are addressed in verse 13, as the blessed who shall die: are there any left for this sharp sickle, but the wicked of the earth?

6. “Another angel … from the temple”; this is evidently the temple in heaven, as in verse 17. From the presence of the Father, who hath set within His own authority—time and seasons (Acts 1:7; Matthew 24:36) the message is sent by this angelic mouth to the Lord to “send forth his sickle.” We need not wonder at this. Angels have the present world in their administration; they know and report to God continually as to its matters; especially, as in Sodom’s case (Genesis 18 and 19); and that of Ahab (1 Kings 22), concerning times when iniquity is full, and judgment is due. So the “crying with a great voice” is really God’s message to Christ, who has been, all along “expecting” such a message (Hebrew 10:12, 13; Psalm 2:7-9).

7. “Send forth thy sickle, and reap.” Many say this reaping is of both saints and sinners. But we feel that this ‘Revelation scene is purely one of judgment.

From the parable of the tares (Matthew 13) we learn that “the harvest is the consummation of the age.” But, while in the parable, the householder says: “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn”; in the interpretation of the parable, the Lord says: “The harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire; so shall it be in the end of the age. 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. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Now note most carefully here, that while the angels gather out the wicked for the fire, they leave the righteous where they are, on earth, where the kingdom is set up. “My barn,” then, of the parable, becomes, necessarily, this earth as ruled by the Lord, when His Father’s kingdom has at last come. Therefore the “sickle” of Revelation 14 is seen to be one primarily of judgment on the wicked.97

8. “The hour to reap is come.”

This is an ominous announcement! Through the Old Testament prophets again and again we have the warning of a harvest time for the wicked, at this very end-time. We shall note this especially in the next vision—of the vintage. But both harvest and vintage are set forth in Joel 3:13: “Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe: Come, tread ye; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” This verse in itself is a complete answer to those who claim that the harvest in Revelation 14 means the saved, and the winepress the wicked. Both passages in Joel refer to the wicked; and that both refer to the wicked in Revelation 14, is shown by the place in The Revelation where it is found and by its conformity to all other Scripture. Note also the sickle, in Joel 3! It is there used, as here, for cutting down the over-ripe workers of iniquity!

9. “For the harvest of the earth is dry.” The Greek word here is the same as is used of the fig-tree in Mark 11:20; and in Luke 23:31 the adjective form is used: “What shall be done in the dry?”—meaning the dreadful
“last state” of Israel in the last days! And at this reaping time of all the earth!

Next we have the Actor, the act, and the result—all that God desires us to see: all in one brief sentence! It involves, of course, the second coming of the King of kings, of chapter 19, with all the heavenly hosts in the Great Day of Wrath. But God wants us to behold, in the majestic simplicity of Deity, what will be done, ere the details come before us. Ah, and alas! how little men dream of the end of all their pride and their ambitions! “The earth was reaped”: that is the end of all things of which man boasts!

The Vine of the Earth and the Winepress of Blood

And another angel came out from the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, he that hath power over fire; and he called with a great voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress of the wrath of God.

And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Here is before us—not the harvest, but the vine of the earth. Christ is the true Vine. But we now have before us those in active living league with Antichrist! The true Church is gone; false Christianity swallowed up by the Beast and his ten kings (Revelation 17:16, 17, 18), and all the earth (but “the elect” of those days) of “one mind, to give their kingdom unto the beast”—Satan’s Christ.

Thus comes “the vine of the earth.” Moses spake long ago of this day, in his great song in Deuteronomy 32:31-35:

      “For their rock is not as our Rock,

      Even our enemies themselves being judges.

      For their vine is of the vine of Sodom,

      And of the fields of Gomorrah:

      Their grapes are grapes of gall,

      Their clusters are bitter:

      Their wine is the poison of serpents,

      And the cruel venom of asps.

      Is not this laid up in store with me,

      Sealed up among my treasures?

      Vengeance is mine, and recompense,

      At the time when their foot shall slide:

      For the day of their calamity is at hand,

      And the things that are to come upon them shall make haste.”

When we come to the gathering of the nations, in Revelation 16, to Armageddon, we can look more fully at the great movement under Antichrist to “cut off Israel from being a nation.” But we must quote Joel’s words here:

“Proclaim ye this among the nations: Prepare war; stir up the mighty men; let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears.” (Just the reverse of what Christ the Prince of Peace will do when He comes!—Isaiah 2:4.) “Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat (just east of Jerusalem); for there will I sit to judge all the nations round about. Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe: come, tread ye; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! for the day of Jehovah is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:12-14).

It needs to be known and remembered by us all that this earth is at war with God Almighty! And, although today is a time of salvation, and of restraining grace, when that salvation ceases, and restraint is removed, the whole earth will rush to cut off the name of Israel from the earth (Psalm 83).

Then God will meet them! “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.” The Lamb of God will come forth. As the Deliverer of Israel He will fulfill Isaiah 63. He will trample the embattled nations of this whole earth, millions upon millions of them, from Bozrah, in Edom, (where He will begin—Isaiah 63:1) to Megiddo at the foot of Mt. Carmel—the Harmagedon, or Armageddon of Scripture.

What movements of God’s “mighty ones” are in verse 19. For now we quote the verse in Joel 3 which we omitted above: “Haste ye, and come, all ye nations round about, and gather yourselves together: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down O Jehovah.” We know, from Revelation 16:13, 14, that the movement of the nations to Armageddon will be of Satanic energy (though commanded, prophetically, of God) but the disposition of those forces of all the earth into such a place and order that they may be trampled as one mass by the Son of Man Himself (Isaiah 63; Revelation 19:15) will be by angelic power.

Ah, such a fearful sight! Rivers of human blood “unto the bridles of the horses”! Yet it will be. If Josephus could say that when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, the Roman soldiers “obstructed the very lanes with dead bodies; and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fires of many of the houses was quenched with these men’s blood” (Wars: 6, 8)— what folly to doubt this word of God that a river of blood will run when the Son of God tramples the nations of all the earth in the Almighty’s anger! Yea, a river from Edom to Carmel, 1600 furlongs! We dare not read the verse that tells this, except as God’s literal foreview of fact!

Here in verse 20 is the Great Day of Wrath of all the prophets. Isaiah 34 tells us that Edom (where the slaughter begins) shall be “made drunken with blood,” and its very dust “fat with fatness” at that slaughter. “Without the city” means Jerusalem. Blood to “the bridles of the horses”—four feet of human blood for two hundred miles!

It is a literal trampling of the enemies of the Lord, in His fury: for He so declares, in Isaiah 63.

Reader, no honest soul can read Revelation 14, and ever hear again Satan’s preachers of “a world growing better and better.”

“O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah.”

Chapter XIV
The Seven Last Plagues

Revelation 15, 16

The Day of Wrath is begun by the appearing on earth of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man, in Palestine, trampling the allied armies of all the earth (Revelation 14:20; 19:19-21). This day inaugurates the thousand-year reign.

Therefore, all judgments seen under the seals, trumpets and vials are prior to this Great Day. They are preliminary visitations of wrath before the Great Day of Wrath at Christ’s coming to earth. This fact should be constantly kept in mind. We shall repeat it again and again.

The Four Gospels furnish us with an excellent example of that method of God’s Word which we find in the book of Revelation. Matthew sets forth Christ as Israel’s Messiah; Mark, as Jehovah’s Servant; Luke, as Son of Man; John, as Son of God; each book goes over the same period, each bringing out certain peculiar phases of the Lord’s life on earth.

In The Revelation we saw that the sixth seal revealed in a panoramic, prophetic way the Great Day itself, though several years before it. Then, under the seventh seal, we went back to various particulars, leading up to that Great Day. Again, the seventh trumpet (11:15-18) revealed the anger of the nations, the coming of God’s wrath, and the accompanying tremendous matters: yet we went back, in chapters 12 and 13, to consider in vision God’s plan about Israel,—the woman’s warfare with Satan, the development of the Antichrist, etc.

Then again, at the close of chapter 14, we had a vision of the Son of Man reaping the harvest of earth, and treading the winepress of Armageddon, destroying the rebel nations, who had gathered to destroy Israel.

But now, in chapters 15 and 16 we return to consider certain particulars preceding the Great Day of Wrath and Armageddon: visitations of God’s preliminary judgments, just as the ten plagues in Egypt were preliminary to the complete overthrow of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea.

We must keep this in mind, lest we try to make the book of Revelation a mere chronological narrative.

We may call attention further to this method in the case of “Babylon the great.”

In chapter 14:8, Babylon is announced as fallen, but it is only so in anticipation. In our present chapter (16:19) we observe her visitation in the earthquake of the seventh vial. Then, in chapters 17 and 18 we go back to consider what Babylon is; her history; her relation to the world-power and to the Antichrist; and her final earthly destruction.

Chapters 15 and 16 are a complete section so we will give the outline of their contents here:

1. “Another sign in heaven”—the Seven last Wrath-Angels, 15:1.

2. The Vision of the Victors Over the Beast, 15:2-4. (As always preceding judgment, the triumph of Grace is shown: compare 7:1, 3, 9.)

3. The Connection of the Seven Vials of Wrath with the Heavenly Temple, and the Reason Therefore, 15:5-8; compare 11:19.

4. The Seven Terrible Vials of Wrath. (Literal plagues, of course, like those upon Egypt) 16:2-21.

The Seven Last Wrath-Angels

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.

The first “sign,”98 in 12:1, revealed God’s heavenly coun- sels concerning Israel; the second in 12:3, the great opposer of those counsels, the Dragon, in his opposition to God’s plan of governing this earth by His Son through redeemed Israel. Satan opposes God’s Christ with his false Christ in chapter 13. All the nations of the earth are by this devilish scheme led into Satan-worship. This brings the flood of evil to its height and calls forth the divine judgments of the seven vials of wrath, chapters 15 and 16.

Consequently, when those judgments are about to take place, it is announced that it is a “great and marvellous” thing that is signified.

When Israel had the terrible breach with Jehovah at Sinai, and God had finally agreed to pardon them, He said in Exodus 34:10: “Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth, nor in any nation.”

These seven angels, pouring out the seven bowls of wrath, are indeed a “great” sign, for “in them is finished the wrath of God.” We shall see them proceed from the temple of God in heaven—all patience having been now exhausted. (The temple stood for mercy and worship.)

The sign is also “marvellous,” for the more we study these chapters the more the weight of these final terrible visitations grows upon us. It is the last expression of God’s indignation before Christ comes in person in the Great Day of Wrath.99

Before the out-pouring of these terrible vials, however, God gives us a vision of those who triumphed over the indescribable awfulness of the days of the Beast. (15:2-4).

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing by the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

Great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages. Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest.

Again the “sea of glass” comes into view. It was “like unto crystal” in chapter 4:6 when first seen. From that passage also we are shown its position “before the throne.” This description is of vastness—a sea: like unto glass—settled, unruffled, peace; like unto crystal—the purity of God’s own Throne. See “the terrible crystal” of the firmament above the cherubim in Ezekiel 1:22, which appears to be the same as in Exodus 24:10.

Now, in our lesson, this sea of glass is “mingled with fire.” And this has, we believe, a two-fold significance. First, these saints “that come off victorious” have been called to pass through the very worst furnace of trial ever known. It has been well said that while we are called on to oppose the world, the flesh, and the Devil, these have had a fourth foe, even Satan’s Christ, a being brought back from the abyss, and known to be such, to whom all the earth has been given over, and whose delusions were so strong as to deceive if it were possible, the very elect. Second, God Himself is “a consuming fire.” Moses saw the bush, that it was not burnt, although the fire was there! We are here beholding the last martyrs before Christ’s coming, and it should thrill our hearts to read that this glassy sea before God is now “mingled with fire.” It celebrates on the one hand what they will have passed through and on the other hand their nearness to and association with God!

We have then, “those that come off victorious (literally ‘those conquering away from’) from the beast and from the image of him, and from the number of the name of him,” standing upon this sea. We also find that they have “harps of God,” i.e., as Alford so well says: “part of the instruments of heaven, used solely for the praise of God”; and (Govett) “real instruments, of God’s making.”

Now, although the Church of God (which these are not) has an unspeakably higher vocation than they, being members of Christ Himself, yet we must not fail to give God the glory for the victory of these through the greatest possible temptation and trial God’s great enemy could bring upon them. We must not fail to enter in spirit into the glorious reward given them. Earth has bowed beneath the hideous blandishments of Satan’s Christ; these resisted him unto death. They then passed through fire, yea, all the fires and agonies possible, and now they stand on that glorious crystal sea, mingled with heavenly fire, which celebrates their victory.

And what do they sing to the accompaniment of those heavenly harps? “The song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”100

Note then, in the song they sing, the celebration first of the works, and then of the ways of “the Lord God, the Almighty,” the “King of the ages.” No gracious heart can read verses 3 and 4 repeatedly without being profoundly moved.

The song of Moses celebrated the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea—the mighty work of God. Jehovah is “fearful in praises, doing wonders.” The song of the Lamb brings out God’s ways as righteous and true. Christ prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” The ways of God with the Lamb involved for him all meekness and suffering, as the path to kingdom and power.

Moses stands for the power of Jehovah who “caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses,” who brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, by the stretched-out arm of might.

The expression, “the Lamb,” reminds us of those ways of unutterable grace, though in righteousness and truth, in which our Lord walked on earth. These witnesses, upon the glassy sea, celebrate this double song before God.

How beautiful are their words as they address them directly to the God for whom they suffered all things rather than yield to Satan! “Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name?” Again, “Thou only art holy.” These witnesses chose holiness in the face of a world gone over to sin; and they have come where holiness alone is! There is exquisite beauty here.

And again, their faith in the victory of their God is declared: “All the nations shall come and worship before thee.” Not yet has this come to pass, yet they are celebrating it in God’s very presence!

Finally they cry, “Thy righteous acts have been made manifest.” Coming from those who passed through the horrors of the persecution, torment and fire of the Beast, through all the rage of Satan, these are most beautiful words!101

They find not a word of fault with their God. All His acts they call “righteous acts”! Mediate upon this, ye who feel yourselves tempted and tried and suffering over-much. Some day you will declare His ways to be good and His acts to be righteous!

The Connection of the Seven Vials of Wrath With the Heavenly Temple

And after these things I saw, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And there came out from the temple the seven angels that had the seven plagues, arrayed with precious stone, pure and bright, and girt about their breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave unto the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and none was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels should be finished.

1. There is a literal temple of God in heaven.
Unless this is clearly seen and believed, much will be obscure. Was not Moses commanded when he was to make the tabernacle, “see that thou make them after their pattern, which hath been showed thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:40)? Now these tabernacle things are distinctly called, in Hebrews 9:23, “copies of the things in the heavens.”

We saw in Revelation 11:19, that “there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant.” Also, in chapter 8:3, we find a golden altar before the throne of heaven.

2. It is true that in the New Jerusalem John beholds no temple; and the reason is given that our Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. In that city they will see His face directly. All formal mat- ters are past—especially governmental matters such as are connected with the temple of which we read in The Revelation.

3. With the heavenly temple in The Revelation, only judgment matters are connected. Even in 8:3-5, where the prayers of God’s saints come up, it is with the effect upon earth of thunders, and voices, and lightnings, and an earthquake! Again in 11:19, upon the opening of the temple of God in heaven, and the vision of the ark of His covenant, there follow “lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.” And now, upon the opening of the temple in our present chapter there came forth the seven angels with the seven last plagues.

4. We find in the temple, in 11:19, the ark of God’s covenant; and again, in 15:5, the remarkable expression “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven.”

This indicates that God is about to fulfill His covenanted promises toward Israel, for to Israel belong the covenanted things (Romans 9:4).

We are back on Old Testament ground, prophetically. Consequently, we saw in 12:1, immediately after the mention of the ark of God’s covenant, the great sign which sets forth in heaven God’s counsels concerning the Woman, who represents Israel. They will involve the full accomplishment of God’s word in Psalm 2—that He will set His king upon His holy hill of Zion,—despite the opposition of all the earth!

In connection with the opening of the temple in chapter 11, we had not only the vision of the Woman and the Dragon, but the war in heaven, the casting out of Satan into earth, the bringing forth of the Antichrist and his False Prophet, and the ghastly reign of iniquity on earth, with the fearful persecutions of God’s saints.

5. Now we are to behold the last plagues, i.e., those final visitations of God upon the nations, and the vexing of them in His sore displeasure, before He sends His Christ, the Lamb of God, to execute the fierceness of
His wrath in person. For the earth is now worshipping the Beast: and the jealousy of the Living God burns like fire!

6. One of the four living creatures, those beings “full of eyes,” deep in the intelligence of the purposes of the Almighty, now gives to these seven angels “seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God.” There is a finality about this scene that brings the utmost awe into our hearts. The temple from which these angels come; their holy glittering aspect; the bowls of wrath ready to be bestowed for pouring; the solemn formal presentation of a bowl to each angel; the material of these bowls —gold, setting forth the very glory of God; the fact that these bowls are full; and that they are full, not of grace, as when David said, “I will take the cup of salvation”; nor of mixed mercy and wrath, as when Habakkuk cried, “In wrath remember mercy”—no longer this: but “full of the wrath of God.” The name of God here is connected definitely with these solemn words, “the wrath of God, who liveth unto the ages of the ages.” Let us speak in low, slow, measured words here. Let us fear; and observe earth’s wickedness with its attendant punishment, with deep humility and awe!

7. What follows should be contrasted with like scenes, when mercy was present:

“The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power.”

We read in Exodus 40:34, 35 words of great blessedness. Moses had constructed the tabernacle which God said He desired that “He might dwell among them,” and had finished it, according to the divine directions:

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle.”

This was blessing indeed! Again, when Solomon had built the temple according to the directions given David, his father, by the Spirit of God, and had made his great prayer of dedication, we read in 2 Chronicles 7:1-4:

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Jehovah filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of Jehovah, because the glory of Jehovah filled Jehovah’s house. And all the children of Israel looked on, when the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah was upon the house; and they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and gave thanks unto Jehovah, saying for he is good; for his loving kindness endureth for ever.”

Here again was unlimited blessing. The very priests are unable to enter the temple or to minister; for all was full of the glory of the blessed presence of Jehovah.

But what a fearful contrast here in Revelation! Sin had caused God to leave His earthly house in Jerusalem: first the glory left (Ezekiel 8-11); then the Lord of the house Himself came and saw, and left it desolate (Matthew 23:37, 38).

Now, in Revelation 14, the majority of Israel are in covenant with Antichrist himself (Daniel 9:27; John 5:43); the nations are in hellish league with Satan to refuse God’s Son His throne. So we read these awful words:

“None was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels should be finished.”

No words of ours are needed here. Only calm reflection upon the fact. God will so turn to anger, at last, that all else ceases, even in heaven! Wrath will be the only business. “Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” (Psalm 76:7).

Ah, Russia, could you but read and mark and turn and repent!

Ah, America, could you but know the end of your godless ways!

The world seeks today the cause of the “great depression”; but she does not seek that God who caused it, and who alone can relieve it!

That we may understand these seven last plagues, three things must be held firmly in mind:

First, that the whole earth (except God’s elect) has gone mad after the Beast (Revelation 13:8), and God’s “hot displeasure” must be manifested, according to Revelation 15:8. “God will listen to naught now but to the demands of His righteous indignation. The sin of earth is beyond endurance; the unpardonable sin is abroad.” “Ah,” cries the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, “I will ease me of mine adversaries!” There must be this divine relief for Him who declares, “Vengeance is mine.” Centuries of long-suffering mocked, despised, by a devil-worshipping earth, arouse at last divine fury. So these bowls of wrath are poured out on the whole world of rebels.

Second, that the all-nation invasion of Palestine by the Beast and his armies, while it is prepared for, under the sixth bowl (Revelation 16:12-16), and though the earth-armies are gathered to Armageddon, yet they will be given over to Christ Himself, to be trodden down at His personal coming in the Great Day of Wrath, according to Revelation 19:11-15. That great day will come as “destruction from Shaddai” (Isaiah 13:6). “Rebellion will be crushed then: for the rebels will be taken off the earth (Matthew 13:40-43). On the contrary, these seven bowls are seven visitations from God in anger on men, while the Lord Jesus is yet absent from earth; and while men are still suffered to rebel and blaspheme. They are hardening judgments, like those upon Pharaoh; indeed, men grow steadily and rapidly more hateful toward God, from the opening of the first seal of judgment in Revelation 6.

Third, that these seven bowl-judgments are literal! There is no other reasonable interpretation possible. Shall we believe that the ten plagues upon Egypt were actually as described in Exodus, and dare to turn away these “seven last plagues” of The Revelation from their evident open significance? Four of the ten Egyptian plagues are here repeated: boils, blood, darkness, and hail. What kind of interpretation is it that believes the one and denies the other! There the visitation was in a single land: here, in all the earth. Is it the extent of the horror that appalls the heart? Have we not read, through all the prophecies, of the day when God will “return judgment to righteousness” amidst earth-wide visitations? “Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” said Pharaoh’s servants to him. Nay, he knew it not nor did he believe it, but rushed madly on into the overwhelming sea! So will earth, under Satan (Pharaoh’s antitype), rush madly to its end.102

For we need to consider, that God hates what men call “civilization,” and “human progress”! All man’s system: his philosophy (which has self-wisdom as its postulate); his science (which discovers “Nature” and denies its Creator); his art (which demands the beautiful in form, but abhors holiness in fact); his inventions (designed, from Cain’s city onward, to make earth livable without God); his religion (which denies God’s righteousness and hates God’s Christ and His shed blood); his government (which has no place whatever for the King who patiently awaits, upon His Father’s throne, the moment when He shall receive the throne to which He only has the right) and, finally, those pleasures which man delights in—all of which consists in the indulgence of that “mind of the flesh” which is “enmity against God.”

The Lord will shortly strike, crush, destroy, wipe out, efface and remove even from memory103 this hateful, abhorrent, abominable thing—man’s “independence”! “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth,” will be carried out to the letter! And that involves crushing the present earth system as one would stamp out a nest of wasps.

And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go ye, and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.

Out of the heavenly sanctuary—where the redeemed multitude (Chapter 7:15) serve their God day and night—comes this awful command! God’s house, meant to be “a house of prayer for all nations” now becomes the court of judgment upon God’s enemies: for it is evidently God’s voice which we hear in this verse.

And the first went,104 and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a noisome and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and that worshipped his image.

Compare Exodus 9:9, where Moses and Aaron sprinkled ashes of the furnace upward in the sight of Pharaoh, “and it became small dust over all the land of Egypt, and became a boil breaking forth with Mains (or blisters) upon man and upon beast.” Since we believe Exodus, we believe Revelation. God creates evil as well as good, as He says: “I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah that doeth all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). We will do well to arm ourselves with this thought. God is constantly creating judgments, as well as saving the lost Right in this world, new diseases which baffle boasted science spring forth, and men take no thought of God in the matter! The judgment of the influenza killed more people than the great war. But even in Christian circles, where is there a solemn asking of God as to the cause of either the war or of the influenza? Just as truly as the Egyptians in Pharaoh’s day turned to their magicians, so does Christendom turn to “science” to solve all its troubles. We thank God for every alleviation of misery that it pleases Him to grant. But we must not forget that He has declared in countless places in His Word that His government involves the infliction of calamity upon persistent evil doing.

Note that it is the time of the Beast, the Antichrist, all through these seven bowl-judgments. Also note that they are crowded into a relatively brief space: for the sores of the first bowl are still upon men in the darkness of the fifth bowl. The sixth bowl, involving the gathering of the hosts to Armageddon will not need more than a few months to bring to pass. It will be as in Egypt, one plague crowding upon another.

Now when this first angel pours out his bowl, sores, or ulcers, break out upon those who have the mark of the Beast, and those who worship his image. It is this infinitely hateful thing that makes God’s jealousy burn like fire. Not upon the animals also, as in Egypt under the sixth plague, but upon men only—men who have allied themselves with Satan, does this universal and horrid thing come. “A noisome and grievous sore”: “Evil—in itself; painful to the sufferers” (Alford). One feels that the words involve hideousness, and incurabil- ity (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35). These Beast worshippers are final rebels; they are shortly to be with the damned. Now they taste of hell on earth. Read Revelation 15:8 again: this will not be a time of mercy. And on their part, as we shall see, they hate God more and more, and are “still stricken.”

And the second poured out his bowl into the sea; and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living soul died, even the things that were in the sea.

Blood is the vivid, terrible mark of death—the wages of sin. This was the first plague in Egypt—the Nile turned to blood.

Now the sea covers far the greater portion of this globe. God, who made it, now turns it to blood—“as of a corpse lying in its own gore.” So the billions, trillions, shoals, of sea-creatures die; and come floating to the surface in horrible, rotting witness of the wickedness of men! There is no escaping these words of God: “every living soul died.” What a frightful stench! What fearful possibilities of disease! Yet remember that this is
exactly what God is doing. “Behold, Jehovah maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, … and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof… Therefore … few men left … For thus shall it be in the midst of the earth among the peoples, as the shaking of an olive-tree, as the gleanings when the vintage is done” (Isaiah 24:1-13). “I will make a man more rare than fine gold, even a man than the pure gold of Ophir As the shaking of an olive-tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost branches of a fruitful tree, saith
Jehovah, the God of Israel” (Isaiah 13:12; 17:6). When God cleared off this race in the days of Noah, He left eight persons. It will be “as it was in the days of Noah” again, shortly: and, although God will yet suffer the human race to have another thousand years on earth (Revelation 20:4-6); nevertheless, He will so reduce earth’s population, that “few men will be left” to start that thousand years. And this will be so whether you believe it or not: for God cannot lie!

And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters: and it became blood.

I stood some time ago at De Leon Springs in Florida, where a great volume of wondrous water poured like a crystal river from—whence no one knows: but it will be a fountain of blood in that day, and all the rivers of earth and all the fountains of water! (You need not be worried over God’s own elect in that time: for He called water out of the flinty rock through forty years for His people, and He will not let His elect suffer from His hand!)

And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous art thou, who art and who wast, thou Holy One, because thou didst thus judge: for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and blood hast thou given them to drink; they are worthy. And I heard the altar saying, Yea, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

Here we see that angelic being in charge of the waters that supply the earth,—a beneficent being certainly; and also the altar itself, which should have spoken for men’s forgiveness: both bowing to God’s judgments as just and true! For men had poured out the blood of those messengers of God who warned and pleaded with them: and underneath the altar were thousands upon thousands of martyrs, whose prayers for divine vengeance must now be fully answered. So the angel bows, as the beautiful rivers and fountains he had administered are now turned to blood! All sympathy of heaven is with God: note that, sinner, or world-bordering Christian! Let this speaking altar make you tremble! Flee to Christ and be safe: for the breakers of judgment show just ahead for this whole world! Oh may we be among those that “only with our eyes shall behold, and see the reward of the wicked”!

I cannot leave this third awful visitation of avenging the blood of God’s saints and prophets, without a word of earnest warning to all Christians to beware of the false security of these days! “Blood, it polluteth the land; and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numbers 35:33). Very many known man-killers are abroad in America today. God will yet remember it. And especially will He remember and avenge the blood of His martyrs.

I shall quote here from a really great man of God, already almost forgotten, but who will shine in Christ’s swift-coming day! In prison over and over for the Word of God in England, hear one of the experiences narrated in his “Journal”. (This occurred in 1651):

“Being at liberty (from prison) I went on, as before, in the work of the Lord, passing through the country into Leicestershire, having meetings as I went; and the Lord’s Spirit and power accompanied me. As I was walking with several friends, I lifted up my head, and saw three steeple-house spires, and they struck at my life. I asked them what place that was. They said, Lichfield. Immediately the Word of the Lord came to me, that I must go thither. Being come to the house we were going to, I wished friends to walk into the house, saying nothing to them whither I was to go. As soon as they were gone I stept away, and went by my eye over hedge and ditch, till I came within a mile of Lichfield; where, in a great field, shepherds were keeping their sheep. Then was I commanded by the Lord to pull off my shoes. I stood still, for it was winter; and the Word of the Lord was like a fire in me. So I put off my shoes, and left them with the shepherds; and the poor shepherds trembled, and were astonished. Then I walked on about a mile, and as soon as I was got within the city, the Word of the Lord came to me again, saying: ‘Cry, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!’ So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud voice, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!’ It being market-day, I went into the market-place, and to and fro in the several parts of it, crying as before, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!’ And no one laid hands on me. As I went thus crying through the streets, there seemed to me to be a channel of blood running down the streets, and the market-place appeared like a pool of blood. When I had declared what was upon me, and felt myself clear, I went out of the town in peace; and returning to the shepherds, gave them money, and took my shoes of them again. But the fire of the Lord was so in my feet, and all over me, that I did not matter to put on my shoes again, and was at a stand whether I should or no, till I felt freedom from the Lord so to do: then, after I had washed my feet, I put on my shoes again.

“After this deep consideration came upon me, for what reason I should be sent to cry against that city, and call it, THE BLOODY CITY! … But afterwards I came to understand, that in the Emperor Diocletian’s time, a thousand Christians were martyred in Lichfield. So I was to go, without my shoes, through the channel of their blood, and into the pool of their blood in the market-place, that I might raise up the memorial of the blood of those martyrs which had been shed above a thousand years before, and lay cold in their streets. So the sense of this blood was upon me, and I obeyed the word of the Lord. Ancient records testify how many of the Christian Britons suffered there. Much I could write of the sense I had of the blood of the martyrs, that hath been shed in this nation for the name of Christ, both under the ten persecutions and since; but I leave it to the Lord, and to His book, out of which all shall be judged; for His book is a most certain record, and His Spirit a true recorder” (Geo. Fox’s Journal, page 98).

Alas, how many faithful preachers of this our own day have died of broken hearts and starvation wages, at the hands of self-righteous professors, wicked spirit-resisting church officials, and purse-proud “influential” people: who do not dream that they, too, have shed the blood of the martyrs!

And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given unto it to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat: and they blasphemed the name of God who hath the power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory.

First, note the absolute power of God over His creation. The Beast, whom the earth has chosen, has no power at all to direct creation, or to deliver his votaries from these troubles.

Second, our Lord said there would be signs in sun and moon and stars: and here they are!

Third, “science” says the sun is “cooling off” which proves afresh God’s words, that “the wisdom of men is foolishness with God.” And the reason is, they leave God out!

Fourth, since “there is nothing hid from the heat of the sun” (Psalm 19), there will be no refuge from this plague: nor does God intend there shall be (except for His own, for whose sake He even “shortens” these fearful times).

Fifth, men know well—ineradicably, that the true God (whom they have abandoned and hate) has “power over these plagues.” Even Russia today cries she will drag down God from His heaven: thus advertising that she knows He is there!

Sixth, they “repented not to give him glory.” These are true God-haters. And we see anew the folly of those who claim that the fires of hell will “purify” any one! Every one who goes into judgment goes in sin’s awful hatred and resentment against God. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2). Men not won by grace will never be won.

Seventh, they blaspheme. Settle this, that men will increase in this fearful sin till the Lord comes. Do not look for human nature to mend: it never will! Only the restraining power of God keeps under the flaming out of “the wrath of man” from the most hideous blasphemies, this hour. And God’s restraint will by and by be fully “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2). Ah, the wickedness that will then be loosed!

And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was darkened; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they repented not of their works.

First, the Beast is a man (13:18); therefore his throne is in a definite place: rebuilt Babylon on the Euphrates, we believe,—Satan’s ancient capital, in the “land of Shinar,” where “wickedness” is to be set on its base in the end-time (Zechariah 5:5-10).

Second, darkness, like that of Egypt in the ninth plague in Exodus, suddenly falls upon the throne and capital and kingdom of the Beast. Satan cannot relieve it. How long it lasts, we know not. “Thick darkness,” that could be felt was on Egypt three days; while God’s people had “light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:21-23).

Third, men are shut in with their horrid sores and pains: there is no alleviation. What must the “outer dark- ness for ever” be, and that with the Almighty’s wrath following them on!

Fourth, still the consciousness that “the God of heaven” is doing this, is upon them! The dragon cannot efface that consciousness, even when he is worshipped!

Fifth, these lost wretches are set in their evil ways and works: “they repented not.” If there is no repentance under God’s hand here, when men still breathe the breath of earth, how infinitely less in hell! Yet fools hope for “repentance beyond the grave.”

Sixth, it should be carefully noticed that this darkness is not that darkening of the sun and moon just before our Lord’s arrival in the Great Day of Wrath, of Revelation 19:11-15. This is merely one of the “signs” connected with The Great Tribulation, as spoken of in Luke 21 and Mark 13. For the sixth bowl, which follows this, must cover time for the nations to gather to Armageddon, whereas, immediately after the sun’s final darkening, the Lord, as “Son of man” comes as lightning upon a black heaven.

And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river, the river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way might be made ready for the kings that come from the sunrising.

This is the literal Euphrates. There can be no other real interpretation of this passage.105 Imagination has very often substituted for exposition, even in such a plain passage as this.

Let us note regarding the Euphrates and its “drying up”:

1. It is mentioned twenty-one times in Scripture; and called “the great river” five times, as the Mediterranean was called “the great sea”: for the Euphrates was the eastern, as the Mediterranean was the western boundary of God’s own people’s inheritance.

2. It was a protection to Israel, both because of the difficulty of its passage, and because of the fact that God had placed a wilderness west of it, between it and Canaan. Only at the upper or northern part was it practically passable (so that Babylon is called by the prophets, the enemy “from the north country”). Even the Roman Empire had its eastern bound here.

3. It is nearly two thousand miles long (1,780). It rises in the Armenian Mountains, flowing at first toward Palestine, to within less than 100 miles of the Mediterranean, then turning away southeast to the Persian Gulf, winding upon itself constantly. It is navigable for 1200 miles. It flowed through old Babylon, which was (and may yet be) the commercial center of the whole world (Revelation 18).

4. It was first seen just outside Eden in Genesis 2, where human sin begins, and is last seen here in Revelation 16:12, where sin reaches its height. Twice in The Revelation does it appear: in chapter 9:13-15, where “at the great river Euphrates” we saw four angels bound, the loosing of which issued in killing the third of the earth’s population. Here in 16:12, its drying up permits countless thousands to rush forward to their doom at Armageddon.

5. The solemnity of the crossing of the Euphrates to invade God’s land, by these eastern hosts, is very awful indeed. That the western nations, under the Beast, the last Emperor of the fourth world-power, should invade Palestine does not startle us so much: (the Roman Empire often persecuted the Jews, and ruled them many centuries). But that these recently pagan hosts from the East, who have now heard the gospel of Christ from thousands of faithful missionaries and rejected it, choose the Antichrist and march to Armageddon to help destroy the Jews (since the Church has been taken up out of their reach) is appalling! That dry bed of Euphrates will be an eastern Rubicon: for all will know whither they are bound, and why, as the sequel shows.

6. Now it is well to reflect that the greater part of mankind is east, not west, of the Euphrates: witness in millions, China’s 440; India’s 330; Japan’s 80; then Siam, Indo-China; the wild hordes of Afghanistan, of Turkestan, of Tibet; not to mention old Persia. I omit purposely Siberia and Asiatic Russia, which prophecy assigns to an entirely different invasion of Palestine than that of Revelation 16—see Ezekiel 38 and 39. These vast peoples of the East have ever marched overland, in hordes like those of Genghis Khan (who conquered the earth, from China to Poland). They are not accustomed to travel as Westerners do. They come on foot and horseback. So that the drying up of the great military barrier, the Euphrates, will “open their way” to Palestine. (Otherwise, through Russia—impossible! or a long ocean voyage—likewise.)

But they must be stirred up by a mighty movement, if they are to leave their homes and their lands, and go on a vast “crusade” to a far off goal; and that with Westerners! For there is an almost unaccountable, but terribly real, enmity of jealousy, between Orientals and Occidentals. As Kipling sang,

      “Oh East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

      Till earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgment Seat.”

But Kipling perhaps did not know what the word of prophecy plainly tells us, that East and West, like Herod and Pilate, will come together in a great meeting to oppose God and His Christ, over a thousand years before the last Judgment! All the earth will be friends in a common cause, when the hour for Armageddon strikes.106

And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, as it were frogs: for they are spirits of demons, working signs; which go forth unto (literally upon) the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.

Now comes the gathering unto the most fell war, fallen man, under Satan, has ever yet rushed into.

1. Note, that it is a war for which they gather: the battle is never joined: for the Lamb has but to come forth, and the Beast is taken, and the False Prophet, and hurled into the lake of fire; and the Devil cast into the abyss. But the gathering unto this war becomes the business of this world for weeks, months: what a scene!

2. Note the source of this earth-wide movement:—three special evil spirits, doubtless leading millions of others who help them, from hell’s trinity, the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet.

3. Note the means of persuasion: miracle-working, before the rulers of all the earth. Jannes and Jambres, Egypt’s magicians, thus blinded Pharaoh. They also brought up frogs! (Exodus 8:7). Scripture’s constant testimony is that “great signs and wonders” will be performed in that time by Satan’s agency.

Seiss well says: “These demon-spirits are the elect agents to awaken the world to attempt to abolish God from the earth; and they are frog-like in that they come forth out of the pestiferous quagmires of the universe, do their work amid the world’s evening shadows, and creep, and croak, and defile the ears of the nations with noisy demonstrations, till they set all the kings and armies of the whole earth in enthusiastic commotion for the final crushing out of the Lamb and all His powers.” Alford’s phrase is, “The uncleanness and the pertinacious noise of the frog.” Go by a marsh some Spring evening, when the slimy filthy unseen frogs are fully squawking. You can hear nothing else!

And now comes a solemn, direct word of warning from the Lord’s own mouth, to such saints as may be here in those days. We read in verse 15:

(Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.)

1. Note the aspect of His coming here emphasized by the Lord: it is as a thief—to surprise and to despoil. This is His coming to the world. It is “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). But we are not looking for that day but for the day of Christ; as the Spirit tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: “We beseech you brethren in behalf of (huper) the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him”—that is, the rapture—“be not quickly shaken from your mind,” (into which I brought you) by feelings, or false preaching, or pretended epistle from me—into believing that the day of the Lord is just at hand: for the apostasy must come before that, etc. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4, Paul contrasts absolutely the state of the Church with that darkened state of carnal security, in which the Lord’s coming catches the world as a snare. Paul says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light,” etc.

2. Note again, that the Lord faithfully keeps His saints posted as to where they are, in His dealings, (if only they will hear!).

3. Note that watchfulness (the hardest of all tasks) is necessary at all times, by all saints, since the Lord ascended.

4. Note that blessedness is connected with watching; shame, with carelessness.

5. And lastly, that there is here no promise of rapture to be waited for; but a danger of having to walk (here on earth) exposed to the gaze of angels and a godless world—naked, that is, publicly bereft of evident divine direction and protection. I know this passage is difficult, in view of the warning to Sardis (3:3), and the counsel to Laodicea (3:18). But both watchless Sardians, and naked Laodiceans share (as it seems to us) the doom of the world; with the added shame of having had a place and a name and through carelessness, lost all.

And now proceeds the vision of the great gathering of the nations by the foul spirits from hell’s trinity.

And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Har-Magedon.

We cannot emphasize too strongly that in the three series of divine judgments—first the seals, second the trumpets, third the vials (or bowls) of wrath—we have those preliminary hardening actions of God upon an impenitent world, by which He prepares that world for the Great Day of Wrath—at Christ’s coming as King of kings, as seen in Revelation 19:11-15. From the advent of the Antichrist in chapter 13 there is no mingling of mercy with wrath. Read again 14:9-11. The purpose of God in bringing the ten plagues upon Egypt was “to show in Pharaoh his power, that his name might be published to all the earth.” Pharaoh had said, “My river is mine own and I have made it for myself” (Ezekiel 29:3). This is the exact spirit of the world today and it is intensifying hourly.

Now the effect of the judgments of the plagues was so to harden, by mighty miracle after miracle, the hearts of Pharaoh and his host, that they rushed madly upon “the thick bosses of his (the Almighty’s) buckler” into the most stupendous scene human eyes had ever witnessed: the waves of the sea piled like a wall on each side: and ahead, the hosts of Israel, marvellously lighted in their march by a vast pillar of fire.

Such a scene comes before us under the sixth seal. Then the overwhelming was of the armies of one nation, Egypt. Now, we behold the hosts of all the nations of earth gather for an indescribably vast overthrow at Armageddon.

We have seen the first bowl become a horrid sore upon the Beast-worshippers: the second turn the waters of the sea into blood; the third, the rivers and the fountains of the waters, so that all the earth had blood to drink; while the fourth bowl is the signal for power, such as has never been known, to be given to the sun (which the scientists had told them was “cooling off”!) The result of all being blasphemy against the God whom they knew had power over all these plagues. Now, under the fifth bowl, utter darkness enthralls the throne of the Beast and his kingdom—that is, all the earth, except, doubtless, the dwelling places of God’s people then on earth (Exodus 10:23).

Now out of this darkness, instead of repentance, comes only increased blasphemy and utter impenitence (Revelation 16:11). At the darkness under the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17) there was exhibited great terror: “they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?” That men under these divine judgments will be increasingly hardened is doubtless the truth: but when the most hardened of all come to the Great Day of Wrath itself, there will be no blaspheming, but sheer blasting terror (Isaiah 2:12-22). Remember the text of the Book of Revelation (1:7): “Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him.”


Here, then, by divine appointment, but by Satanic agency, are gathered the hosts of earth; as Ahab, by God’s counsel and command, was deceived by an evil, lying spirit, to go to battle to his death (1 Kings 22).

1. What is Armageddon, or, more accurately, Har-Magedon? Its name means, “Mountain of Megiddo.” (See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, chapter 9; or Thomson’s Land and the Book on “Megiddo.”) It was here the Lord so marvellously helped Barak overthrow the Canaanites (Judges 5:19). The region is named from Megiddo, a royal Canaanite city (Joshua 12:21). To the northwest is Mount Carmel where, at the mouth of the Kishon River, Elijah killed the hundreds of Baal’s prophets. Mount Gilboa, where King Saul, the persecutor of God’s king—David—fell, is southeast. And on the north or northwest, overlooking all, is Mount Tabor, where Barak assembled the hosts of the Lord against the enemy. From Judges 4:6, 12, 14, and Jeremiah 46:18, I feel that the “mountain” (Hebrew Har) in Har-Magedon is Tabor. “Megiddo” is named twelve times, the governmental number, in Scripture; and the last time in almost the form we have it here: Megiddon, in Zechariah 12:11—a reference to the mourning for poor Josiah who fell in the same region, trying to defend Babylon against Egypt (2 Chronicles 35:22-25). (Oh that he had been the only saint to fall meddling in world-quarrels!)

2. Why does God bring this host here? For destruction. God will yet deal with this earth according to His offended majesty, until a man shall be “more rare than fine gold,” until the land is “drunken with blood.”

God has no apologies for slaying the Canaanites; or giving Jerusalem over to Babylonian captivity, and then to Roman slaughter; or letting famine waste millions; or the plague, ten millions. We desire to offend this adulterous generation’s apologists for God.

3. Christians should arm their minds with this outlook as to “the rulers of this age, who are coming to nought” (1 Corinthians 2:6); so that when they “hear of wars and rumors of wars,” they may obey their Lord, and “see that they be not troubled”; knowing that whatever marchings to and fro, in this war or that, may occur, they can be only some preliminary to the earthwide crusade against God and His Christ that will gather in that great plain of Esdraelon, in Palestine—not many miles from the very town where the Christ they hate grew up before the Father as a tender plant, and of that dry ground, Israel.

Yea, they will rush as Egypt after Israel, over the Euphrates’ bed and over the “tongue of the Egyptian sea” (also dried up) in pursuit of the remnant of God’s chosen nation, to “the mountain of destruction”—Armageddon (Isaiah 11:15, 16).

So in the sixth and seventh bowls of wrath we have these two most awful things: the gathering of all earth’s nations to Palestine into actual warfare against Almighty God—this is the sixth bowl; and that fearful shaking of this earth in divine retributive anger so long prophesied, which divides Jerusalem into three, reduces all Gentile cities to ruins, engulfs in the earth restored Babylon, the last great world capital, banishes all islands and mountains, and casts those terrible hailstones over this earth, which had been reserved “against the day of battle and war” in Jehovah’s “treasuries of the hail” (Job 38:22, 23).

“It is done!” is the great voice from the throne, when this seventh bowl is poured out. Men would not have the Saviour’s “It is finished!” on Calvary; so they must have the awful “It is done!” from the Judge! Alas! Alas! Oh, that men today would hear and be warned to flee from the coming storm!

And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the temple, from the throne, saying, It is done: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. And every island fled away, and mountains were not found. And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, cometh down out of heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great.

79 This word is used 46 times in the New Testament—38 of them in Revelation; and its first use, in 6:8, reveals its meaning, a beast of prey. Contrast ktenos (as Luke 10:34).

80 Remember that while 2 Thessalonians 2:6 reads, “That which (to, neuter) restraineth,” the seventh verse, in detailing more particularly the fact, uses the masculine, “he who (ho) restraineth.” The words, “ye know” of verse 6 (oidate) rather indicate, it seems to me, a knowledge arising from consciousness, as well as instruction on the apostle’s part. The Greek word originally means “to see,” “to know for one’s self.” Christians are all aware that their protection from the inrush of the enemy is the indwelling Spirit. “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”

81 Mussolini, with his ambitions for the restoration of old Rome, his Caesar-ideals, his inflexible will, his undiminishing energy, is a portent of what one of these emperors will be; and also proof how quickly such an one may rise into power! Of course Mussolini does not begin to fill the vast picture of the Beast of Revelation 13.

82 Seiss well comments: “Did not men (at the French Revolution) sing halleluias to the busts of Marat and Lepelletier, and conveyed a woman in grand procession to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, unveiled and kissed her before the high altar as the Goddess of Reason? Nay, at this very hour, there resides a man in the city of Rome, whom one-half of Christendom itself hails, honors and adores as the vicar of Jesus Christ, the vicegerent of God upon earth, infallible, the sole possessor of the keys of heaven,—a man whom the greater festivals exhibit as a divinity, borne along in solemn procession on the shoulders of consecrated priests, while sacred incense fumes before him. Let there come, then a man from among the distinguished dead! Let him prove by signs evident that he is verily a great emperor returned to life again; let him show the intelligence, the energy, the invincible power, and whatever else has made and marked the glory of the mighty, and let there come with him a great prophet to exercise all this power in the one direction of a new universal religion, advising and urging with eloquence and miracles, in the name of absolute Wisdom, the worship and adoration of that man, as the only right worship in the universe; and what is there in humanity to withstand the appeal! As surely as man is man, the same that he has hitherto been, it will and must be a grand success. The Saviour so anticipated, and says that if it were possible to break down Jehovah’s promises the very elect would be deceived!”

83 As to this solemn, divine characterization of this man, it is well to recall that one of Napoleon’s marshals shouted in horror when he heard of the emperor’s escape from Elba to rush back to his power in France: “What! is the wild beast loose again?”

84 Alford here remarks, “These last words are ambiguously placed. They may belong either to gegraptai (was written) or to sesphagmenou (was slain).” He connects them with the latter, adducing 1 Peter 1:19, 20: “That death of Christ which was fore-ordained from the foundation of the world, is said to have taken place in the counsels of Him with whom the end and the beginning are one.”

But the habit of Scripture is to connect election with the writing rather than with the ground, of that election, the death of Christ. The passage from Peter is rather against, than for, Alford’s contention: Christ was “foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for your sake,” etc. In Daniel 12:1, referring to the exact “time of trouble” with which Revelation 13 is concerned, we read of those being delivered who “shall be found written in the book; as also in Isaiah 4:3, the spared remnant are described as “every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem.”

Hengstenberg says, “The expression ‘from the foundation of the world’ (in Revelation 13:8 and 17:8) must not be referred to the slaying of the Lamb”; and quotes Bengel: “The Apocalypse often speaks of the Lamb slain; it never adds from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 9:26). They who hold Him to have been slain in the divine decree from the foundation of the world, may with equal justice speak of Him as having been also born, raised from the dead, ascended to heaven.”

85 To use the term ecclesiastical to describe the character and career of the second Beast of Revelation 13, seems to me both an inaccurate and a misleading thing. The Beast and his ten kings have destroyed from off the earth the harlot of Revelation 17, and in so doing, have annihilated all things “ecclesiastical” whether of apostate Christendom or of paganism. “All that is called God,” or that is “an object of worship” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, Greek), has been banished. Therefore, to call the second Beast an “ecclesiastical power” is delusive. Just as well, might Jannes and Jambres with their God-opposing miracles in Egypt, or a Simon Magus with his “magic,” or a Hermann the Great, be called “ecclesiastical.”

The whole business of the second Beast is to support him “whose coming (parousia) is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). The mere fact that he “doeth the great signs” of Revelation 13:13-15, gives him no claim to be called “ecclesiastical” in any sense, for that term carries with it the idea of human religion: whereas, this second Beast is wholly, directly, and openly Satanic.

To employ, therefore, the term “ecclesiastical” regarding him, as over against “the civil power” is to imagine the present religious constitution of society to have, at least in some measure subsisted, and consequently to destroy or render impossible a conception of the real situation in those dire days. The second Beast is merely the prophet, the willing but absolute tool, of the first Beast.

That he has “two horns like unto a lamb” does not necessarily imply that he is imitating the Lamb of God, for men will have then rejected the very thought of that meek and lowly One. What the world is looking for even today, is not a meek One, but “a man on horseback,” one who will lord it over them. The “horns like unto a lamb” merely indicate that the second Beast instead of being “a king of fierce countenance” like the first, will have the relatively plausible and persuasive ways of a great deceiver of men. The “civil power” has become the “ecclesiastical,”—if by the latter term you mean that which engages the worshipping faculties of man; for it is the first Beast who is a god to men: and that before the second is on the scene!

86 We believe this occurs in time at Revelation 4:1, where Church testimony ends. It is Christ, in connection with His ruling the nations, who is the man child of Revelation 12:5 and His ascension is viewed there only in connection with His rulership, and not as to its date in history.

87 We desire to commend the three lectures of Joseph Seiss on Revelation 13, as found in the second volume of his, “Lectures on the Apocalypse.”

On Revelation 12 we cannot agree with Seiss that the Woman, is “the Church of all the ages”; but his chapters on the Antichrist, Revelation 13, are spiritual, masterly, and very edifying indeed.

88 It is ever the plan of the great ones of earth to retire from direct gaze, and operate through representatives. This enhances the mystery and power of their names. It is hard to obtain readily an interview with the “big bosses” either of business or of politics! When the Dragon sets forth the Beast, men worship the Dragon all the more fatuously. When the Beast retires behind his Prophet working miracles in his name, and most especially when that Prophet causes an image of the first Beast to be made and to speak, to exercise even murderous powers for those refusing adoration—then Satan’s steel-trap on mankind has been sprung indeed!

89 It is striking to note that the democratic principle (as over against the imperial iron) is first called in Daniel 2 merely “clay” (the masses of men), verse 33; then “potters’ clay” (men moulded by orators and agitators), verse 41; and finally “earthenware” verse 41 (R. V. margin), and “brittle,” verse 42 —after the fires of revolution have hardened them for action into solid blocs.

90 That the number 144,000 is literal you cannot doubt, without sitting down beside some Sadducee. It is well, when people claim that the Scripture does not mean what it says, to ask, “Who, then, shall say what it means?”

91 Indeed, it has occurred to us that the presence of the heavenly seal in the foreheads of the remnant from chapter 7 on, is so evident to men that Satan is forced to undertake to break its influence by demanding the opposite seal in the foreheads of his devotees. And especially may this be true, when we reflect that God preserves (as in 9:4) those who have His seal, from woes to which others are subject.

92 We should constantly remember that the Church, the Body of Christ, as ministered by Paul, as indwelt by the Holy Spirit, has a calling immeasurably above and beyond this 144,000; or, for that matter, far beyond anything yet revealed in the book of Revelation! Even in Hebrews, Christ and His own are seen as “all of one,” and they, His “brethren.” Where, so far, in Revelation, is such a relation set forth? Even in the seven churches of chapters 2 and 3, Christ is (and must be) Judge. The glorious, overwhelming truth of oneness with Christ, His “fulness,” members of Him, is not set forth. Oh, alas, we do not see it; or we forget it; or we neglect it; or we grieve the indwelling Comforter. And then, we are blind. We can no longer interpret Scripture. We part company with Paul’s epistles, and we desire Moses and Elijah along with Jesus—Moses to give a “rule of life,” and Elijah to call down fire if we fail to beep the “rule.”

93 Jeremiah 25:15-26 is an astounding passage, revealing as it does the judicial operations of Jehovah through His prophets outlined in God’s commission to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:10: “I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Next is recorded the awful power for evil committed to Babylon, destroying with its idolatrous influence one nation after another,—Judah, Egypt, Uz, Philistia, and so on, 21 or 22 peoples being enumerated in the series, ending with the king of Sheshach—“he shall drink after them!” That is, the city of Babylon, the source of destruction, was to be the last destroyed, which we find fulfilled in The Revelation—Sheshach is the ancient name of Babylon (Revelation 16:19).

94 Let the daringly foolish that deny eternal punishment, and who profess to believe in a God incapable of wrath stay away from this spot!

95 The definite article is not used here. It is eis aionas aionon; for the abstract thought of “age-abidingness” is before us. In Revelation 20:10 the definite article is used, referring to this passage, and emphasizing the fact that the torment (which the wicked share with the Devil—Matthew 25:41) will endure through all the endless ages.

96 The first are those who are already seen sitting on the thrones, to whom “judgment” was given—the Church, according to 1 Corinthians 6:2; the second company are, we believe, those martyrs seen under the fifth seal, in Revelation 6—now at last raised (they lived) and those also up to the days of the Beast; and the third—the martyrs under the Beast, as in Revelation 14:13. They are the last; when their company is made up, the Lord arrives to avenge them all. See Revelation 6:11.

97 That the angels will also “gather together” the earthly elect at the Son of man’s coming is seen in Matthew 24:31. But that these are not “reaped” as are the others, is seen from the preceding verse, where “all the tribes of the earth mourn” at His appearing.

98 We find the word seemeion (translated “wonder” in the King James Version, and “sign” in the Revised Version) occurs seventy-seven times in the New Testament, beginning with Matthew 12:38, 39. It is sometimes rendered “miracle” in the King James Version (where rhetoric rather than accuracy so often governs). It is not to be confused with “mystery” (musteerion); for in the very first verse of Revelation the word is used in verb-form: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, the things about to come to pass … and he signified it, by his angel,” etc. The whole book of The Revelation thus is governed by this word, which sets forth the manner in general of its presentation to John. Our Lord’s use of this verb in John 12:33; 18:32 and 21:19, signifying by what … death he should die,” plainly shows that instead of the word setting forth something mysterious or hidden, 011 the contrary the plainest announcement of the facts that would occur was given.

It is necessary to rid our minds of that unbelieving: conception of The Revelation that fills it with constant secrets, making it amount to an hallucination. The Lord commanded John not to seal it up (22:10); and it is therefore not sealed, but open to Christ’s own (1:l).

The use therefore of the word “sign” in 15:1 is not intended to convey in the least the thought that this chapter and the following one contain unreal things, or those not literal facts; but the exact opposite. The word “great,” moreover, indicates that something of outstanding importance is to be set forth.

99 Remember constantly that Christ must come Himself, at the last, and tread the winepress alone, in His anger (Isaiah 63:3-5). The wrath of God is general, world-wide, and in view of man’s iniquity and idolatry. The wrath of the Lamb is particular—against Antichrist and his king and armies gathered for the double purpose of cutting off Israel from being a nation (Psalms 83:4), and of “making war” against the Lamb (whose presence, with His army, seems to be evident to those on earth—Revelation 19:19; Zechariah 12:10) to prevent His rescue of beleaguered Israel.

100 It is deeply suggestive that Moses is here called “the bondservant (doulos) of God” and the Lord is called, as is usual in this book, the diminutive arnion, which means “the little lamb”! (Compare amnos in John 1:29-36; 1 Peter 1:19; Acts 8:32). DeWette surely rightly believes that the change to the diminutive arnion, a word used only in the Apocalypse, is meant to put forward permanently the idea of His meekness and innocence. It is the exaltation noted as the result of perfect obedient patience in Philippians 2:6-11; and it is of the utmost importance that we grasp firmly and hold fast constantly the fact that it is God the Father who exalts Christ as the result of His patience; that it is God the Father who insists upon Christ’s judging and executing judgment because of His infinite patience and humiliation (He being the Creator) in becoming a Son of Man, and dying the death of the cross. In our Lord’s lovely life He left absolutely everything to the Father, who win in due season absolutely exalt Him, and that in the scene of His former rejection and shame.

101 “The fiery persecution under the Beast was a trial far exceeding in its combination of suffering anything hitherto experienced (Mark 13:19). The pagan persecutions of early times, and the still more exquisite and refined torments under Papal Rome, come short of the horrors of the Great Tribulation” (Scott).

102 Because these seven judgments, like the other judgments we have considered, are as definitely hardening judgments as were the plagues upon Pharaoh, it will be profitable to the real students of The Revelation to read the account of the plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7-12), Read the different expressions concerning Pharaoh: when he “saw that there was respite, he made strong his heart and hearkened not unto them”; “the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn (Hebrew—heavy), and he did not let the people go.” “Jehovah hardened (Hebrew—made strong) the heart of Pharoah, and he hearkened not unto them.” “When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and made heavy his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was strong, and he did not let the children of Israel go.” “Moses and Aaron did these wonders before Pharaoh: and Jehovah made strong Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of his land.”

Remember, in Exodus 5:2, Pharaoh’s first word to Moses: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” But remember chiefly God’s word to him by Moses, in Exodus 9:14-16: “For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”

Remember that Romans 9:14-18 is just as much inspired by the Holy Spirit as John 3:16. The whole history of this present world is meant to show forth, through God’s gift of His Son at Calvary, not only His own infinite love, but also the absolutely deadly nature, character and power of sin; together with its proud insanity, as rebellion of the mere creature against the Infinite Creator: together with the sure and just end of all such rebellion; in order that all eternity may be able to look back, and contemplate, and fear, and reverence forever, and serve the Holy One!

103 “The memory of the righteous is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot.” There goes the whole history of Adam the First, and all his selfish line! “The former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

104 “The first departed (apelthen): each angel, as his turn comes, leaves the heavenly scene, and, from the space between heaven and earth, empties his vial upon the appointed object” (Alford). It is astonishing to mark, in The Revelation, the direct control God gives His angels over the powers of “nature,” and the power to execute “the judgment written.”

105 “This is the only understanding of these words which will suit the context, or the requirements of this series of prophecies” (Alford). “This must mean the literal river” (Seiss). “This means the literal river Euphrates” (Larkin). Darby (Synopsis) and Kelly (Lectures) both so state. Govett (Apocalypse Expounded) 1813-1901. who wrote, as Spurgeon quaintly says, “a hundred years before his time,] and whom Seiss largely follows, says with his usual common sense: “Against anyone traveling from the East to the West, the Euphrates interposes its broad barrier, difficult to be surmounted even by individuals; and much more by kings and their armies.”

106 Prophecy after prophecy tells of the united rush of the nations into Palestine, just before the Great Day of Wrath of Revelation 19:11-15 (See Joel 33-14; Zephaniah 3:8; Zechariah 12:3, 9; Isaiah 24:1, 2, 8; Obadiah 15, etc.). Tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions will gather to that slaughter I The weak, those too old or feeble to go to war, will cry, “I am strong,” says the word of the Lord in Joel 3. The blood will be “to the bridles,” remember. That word will be fulfilled!