Notes On The Apocalypse

Gleaned At Lectures In 18421

Chapter 1

The first eight verses serve as an introduction to the whole book. It is profitable, and throws light on the Apocalypse itself, to examine the peculiar character of the book, and the manner in which Jesus reveals Himself in it. There is a special blessing attached to the reading of this book (chap. 1:3; 22:7). It is a practical thing. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.”

Nothing is of more importance. The prophecies of the Old Testament strengthened the Jews in their relationship with God, and attached them to His government. Although God permits men to go their own way, led by their own passions, yet He never did, nor ever will, entirely give up the reins of government as to this world. This is what the Apocalypse shews us. All things work together for the glory of Jesus. We see in Hebrews 11:7 the effects of prophecy on faith. The faith of Abel recognises the sacrifice; Enoch walks with God. The faith of Noah condemns the world; it was not limited to the recognition of the efficacy of the sacrifice and walking with God; but Noah was warned of God of things not seen as yet, and, separated in walk from the world by this warning, became heir of the righteousness which is by faith, and condemned the world. The world put to death Jesus the heir. The church, warned of God of what is about to come to pass, knows that man in rebellion against God has no title to the inheritance of the world. The church in its suffering state does not possess it.

Christ is presented to us in the Apocalypse as the heir of the world. The church, like Noah, condemns the world, of which she is co-heir with Christ.

God is not presented as Father in the Apocalypse; this gives the character of the book. When the glory of the inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:17, 18) is treated of, Christ is presented as Man; and God, as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3:14, where the communion of the Father and of the Son is in question, He is presented as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Apocalypse, God is presented as the God who governs the world; whereas when it is the church that is in question, He is called Father. Moreover, in the Apocalypse, the subject is (not what relates to His connection with the church, but) the world, and its connection with God as Governor of the world.

In chapter I Christ is presented as man, but in glory. The communication is by an angel—not by the Spirit of revelation and of communion, making the church to enjoy the glory and fellowship with the Father and with the Son. There is a great difference between what is communicated to the church and what has the church for its subject. When the church is addressed as to what concerns herself, she is addressed accord-ng to the presence of the Spirit which puts her in communion with the Father and the Son as the church, as the family. God communicated to Abraham what concerned Sodom, so to the church what concerns the world.

Verse 1. A revelation is made to Jesus, and He communicates it to John by an angel.2 It is prophecy, the testimony of Jesus (i.e., that which He gives Himself), and the word of God. The difference between the testimony of Jesus and the testimony to Jesus is of some importance in this book. It is often said that the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus; so that those who should receive that alone, and have nothing more, have the testimony of Jesus, and the word of God. In this verse the learned agree to read, not the testimony of Jesus Christ, “and of all things that he saw,” but “the testimony of Jesus Christ [viz.] all things that he saw”; that is to say, the visions in the Apocalypse themselves form the testimony. This prophecy is, first, the word of God; secondly, the testimony of Jesus Christ; thirdly, a vision— “all things he saw.”

Verse 3. “For the time is at hand.” Those things are not fulfilled. The thought of the return of Jesus was so present that the disciples thought John would not die before His coming. John closed revelation.

Malachi closed the Old Testament by the promise of Elijah. From that time all is apocryphal. There is no new revelation or communications made that would constitute the proof of a recognised relationship. So the Apocalypse, which closes the New Testament revelation, announces the coming of Jesus, and all is apocryphal until the Lord comes to receive the church.3

God does not, in the interval, give up His people; but He makes no more revelations. Therefore He says “the time is at hand.” Thus the apostles speak of their time as being the last days. All the interval until the return of Jesus is the longsuffering of God towards the world. The church is to walk by faith, and by the revelation already given.

Verse 4. John addresses directly the seven churches.

The salutation agrees with the character of the book. God presents Himself as the Eternal, as the One who reigns and rules. The Spirit is presented in a manner exterior to the relations of God with the church, as a spirit of wisdom and of light. It is the Spirit in His attributes of power and of perfection, the accomplisher of the divine will in the world. Moreover, Jesus is not presented here as the Head of the church in heaven, but as the faithful Witness, as risen, and as Prince of the kings of the earth.

Verse 6. It is the church who receives the revelation and who answers, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us to God and-his Father kings and priests, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” The church cannot forget the love of which she has been the object; and she expresses her own relation to God in the scene which is about to be disclosed. Jesus is placed last (v. 4, 5) because He is one who communicates with the earth and whose of right it all is.

God is on the throne, the Spirit is before the throne, and Jesus is in connection with the earth. This is the object of the book. It is not the church which is here in the thoughts of God; she receives the communication of them. Jesus has, in spite of Saltan, title to the inheritance of the world; and He lets the church into the knowledge of His counsels before the thing takes place. God communicates to Abraham what He is going to do to Sodom; and here, to the church, what He is going to do to the world, in order that the church may remain apart from all that system that leads to judgment.

Verse 7. “Behold, he cometh with clouds.” This verse passes on to that which establishes His relation with the world, the Jews included. That is the principal thought, the great subject of revelation here. The present dispensation is a dispensation of faith. The church has not seen Jesus risen; she has only seen the witnesses of His resurrection, and she must believe it on their testimony. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” John 20:29. Such is the principle on which the believer walks in the present dispensation. “Every eye shall see him” (not those only who believe); that is the character of the coming dispensation.

Verse 8. God introduces Himself, after the manifestation of Jesus to every eye, to close the testimony by the revelation of Himself—the same that He had been in the beginning, and the Almighty God; which was, and is, and which is to come; unchanged through all the changes that had taken place. But the title of Alpha and Omega, and of the Eternal, which God takes here, is the same that is given to Jesus (chap. 21:6), where the prophecy is closed. He is always the image of the invisible God, always God Himself manifested in the flesh; the One who is, who was, and who is to come; the Almighty. Also, in comparing 1 Timothy 6:14, 16, with Revelation 19:16, we see the title of King of kings and Lord of lords, which, in the first of these passages, is applied to Him “who dwelleth in the light to which no one can approach,” and who shall shew Jesus, applied to Jesus in the second; and when Jesus is “shewn,” He comes with the same titles which He bears who shews Him. The name of Almighty is that by which God reveals Himself to Abraham; Exodus 6:3. At the end of the verse He reveals Himself as the one who will fulfil to the Jews the promises made to Abraham. The Almighty who had made these promises is the Eternal (that is to say Jehovah, the God of Israel.)

Verse 9. It is well to notice the position of John which is connected with the character of the book. He does not exactly present himself as a member of the body, though he is so, of course; but in his actual position, viz., where the delay of the coming of the Master places the faithful, that is, in tribulation. His actual position was like that of others in the tribulation of Christ as member of His kingdom, and like Him awaiting the moment when the accomplishment of the promises of the glory should take place— “in the tribulation, the kingdom, and the patience of Christ.” Such is the position of the church, which becomes her while the king is hidden in God; John 21:22. The word of God and the testimony of Jesus had placed him there, and the testimony of Jesus was peculiarly that of the kingdom. Again, observe here that the Lord’s day is Sunday. The meaning is not the day of the Lord. Nor is there any doubt that the greater part of the visions apply to what precedes that coming day. The rest of the chapter shews us already the glory of Christ. Affection is inseparable from testimony to the glory of Jesus.

Verses 12, 13. When John turns to look at the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, he sees Jesus. He sees what characterised the Ancient of days. Daniel 7:9, 13. In Daniel, the Son of man is led to the Ancient of days, and receives the dominion. In Revelation 1:14, Jesus, the Son of man, has the character of the Ancient of days.

Jesus cannot present Himself as Man without the church and the Holy Ghost recognizing Him as God, Eternal, and Almighty, as the One who has dominion over the world. God gives us to understand His purposes concerning the world, and shews to us Jesus, who suffered, supremely exalted as Man. We see, when the Son of man is manifested in the glory (and so it was when sojourning here below), God Himself, the eternal God, as well as the man to whom all title to glory belongs. Jesus has the reward of having humbled and made Himself of no reputation for us. In Psalm 102 He says, “He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days.” The answer is, “But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” John sees also the seven churches (things that are), and Christ in the midst of these churches, not as serving them. His garments descend to His feet; His girdle of gold is divine glory in judgment, not spiritually on oneself, but to be executed on others—judicial firmness. His head reveals the Ancient of days. His eyes were piercing like fire in judgment. Glory and majesty were discovered in Him, and He held the representatives of the seven churches in the right hand of His power.

Verse 16. He judges by the word of His mouth, a two-edged sword. Glory supreme shines in His face.

Verse 17. We do not find the spirit of adoption and confidence. It is man standing in the presence of the glory of Him who rules. Speaking in this character, He communicates the revelation of God to His servant John, the prophet of the church.

Verse 18. Jesus, the Man once dead but now alive again, conqueror of hell and of death, takes away fear from him who finds death in the presence of His divine glory.

Verse 19. We see here the division of the Apocalypse into three parts:

Firstly, The things seen, that is to say, the glory of Jesus such as we have seen it described.

Secondly, The things that are, or the seven churches.

Thirdly, The things to come after them, or the prophecy; chapter 4:1.

The order of the book presents thus the Person of Jesus, Son of man in glory; the Eternal God; the churches, and Jesus as a judge in the midst of them; and then revelations concerning the world. Jesus is revealed here, not as the Head of the church, but as judge and ruler in the churches; not as the olive tree which gives the oil, or as the Head that distributes gifts, but as the Head who makes use only of threatenings and of rewards; not as servant or advocate, or shepherd of the sheep; but in a long robe, in the dignity of a judge, and like one who comes to see what light the candlesticks give.

It is important to apprehend that the general object of this book is the revelation of the relations of God, as ruler, with the world, viewed as introducing into it Jesus as heir. It will be seen how much of difficulty this removes. The understanding of the book supposes a soul established in its relations with the Father, and with the Son to whom God will reveal His purposes towards the world, as God. It would be grievous and shameful for us not to be sufficiently of the family of God to feel interested in all His glory.

Chapters 2, 3

I avoided in my lectures saying anything on the seven churches as not being strictly part of the prophecy. For the satisfaction of my readers I shall add thereon only a few thoughts. There were doubtless seven churches thus named j but they were selected in order to present the thoughts of God to the whole church. The number seven is expressive of something spiritually complete. The seven churches are “the things which are,” and “the things which are” end with the history of the seven churches. “What was to happen after these” (chap. 1:19) cannot be considered as belonging to the present time in the sense in which this expression refers to the position in which John found himself. The prophetic details were outside of that period. They were the things which were to happen after it; that is to say, the prophetic details of this book were not comprised in “the things which are” considered severally as the time present of the churches.

But the seven churches may be viewed under a twofold aspect. First, there were seven churches existing at that very time. But, then, the glory of Christ, judging in the midst of the churches, was certainly not confined to this; and the number seven guides our thoughts towards something which is complete. Are we then to think of all the churches at that time, or of the general history of the church on the earth? In the first place, it is the moral condition of the church, wherein that is to be found which is spoken of; and the judgment pronounced is pronounced upon such a condition, and is addressed to “all that have ears to hear,” and would thus morally extend to all the churches existing at that time. But, inasmuch as it describes states distinct, differing one from the other, it is difficult to apply it to the whole church at any given period; and the thoughts are very naturally directed to periods in which the condition of the professing church may have been characterised by what is said concerning the churches placed in succession before us.

The expression “the things which are” very naturally adapts itself to this; for, as we have seen, it is difficult to apply, at any given time, seven very different states to the general condition of the church, and it is evident that the expression “the things which are” comprises more than what is understood by the seven churches in Asia. Now the state of the professing church, until it is rejected as a witness on the earth, is naturally described by “the things which are,” as contrasted with the intentions of God in bringing in a new dispensation by the exercise of His power into the world. And this it is which distinguishes these two chapters from those which follow. The church is seen in a state of declension until she is spued out of the mouth of the Lord. Then comes the history of the throne. We may distinguish the seven churches of that time as presented to us historically (which do not perfectly set forth all God’s thoughts) from the history of the church in general until the end: each of these things presents to us “the things which are.”

There is here, with regard to the form of prophecy, an important observation to be made. When the people of God are more or less still recognised by Him, the prophecy is addressed to the people. When they are no more recognised of God, then the ways of God are communicated to the prophet who declares His counsels concerning the world. Thus the prophets of the Old Testament speak to the people, while the people are recognised of God. Daniel, a captive in Babylon, receives visions concerning their relations with the nations, and the history of those nations: but the prophecy is not addressed to the people. Thus also the Apocalypse no longer recognises the church upon earth in the prophetic part of the book, and is not an address to the church itself. “The things which are,” and what John saw of the glory of Christ, judging in the midst of the churches, no doubt, is addressed to the churches. In the prophetic part, the testimony is given to her— is deposited with her, so to speak; but the word is not addressed to the church. The Lord had said, speaking of John, “but if I will that he tarry till I come”; John, the last of the apostles, bears personally to the churches the last testimony of Christ’s relationship with them (according to their present state—a state, it may be said, of transition, and where the churches are seen quite in a new light). As a symbolical person, his testimony lasts until the church is no more recognised at all; and prophecy takes the place of communication made direct to the church, and announces the introduction of the Firstborn in judgment (judgment of the apostasy and of the world), and the events which proceed from the throne and precede His introduction. It was necessary that the church should be put aside in order to speak of those things. Otherwise everything would have been done with a view to the church herself. The Lord is seen as the Lamb in the throne at the very beginning of the prophecy, as the One who has suffered in His own Person on the earth, and not as judging in the churches on the earth.

It would be impossible here to enter in detail upon the seven churches; it would be to write a book. The varied promises, descriptive of the heavenly portion that is to come, would deserve protracted study, as well as the peculiar insignia by which Christ is designated, and the relation between the two; and also the connection of the latter with the state of the church in which they are severally found. I shall only endeavour to give a general outline, according to what we have seen. It is a state of transition. Christ is represented as a Judge in this book, judging either the churches or the world. He is no longer as the Head of the church communicating, in grace, blessings and precepts, or exhorting by the chosen members of the body, or girded with a towel washing the feet. He is judging the state of things and threatening them. At one time He threatens to remove the candlestick, when a church is not faithful to that which has been entrusted to her, as bearing testimony before the world.

There is another remark to be made here: God’s candlestick. His government in the world was no longer at Jerusalem. God will govern the world by His Firstborn, and will prepare the way for Him by these judgments. But judgment begins at the house of God. The light—the candlestick of God—was there, and His name was upon them in the sight of the world. And whatever be its unfaithfulness, and however God may act in raising a testimony elsewhere before the world, until such a system be judged, as a system established of God, it bears its responsibility, and God acts in judgment towards it. Jerusalem was the seat of God’s testimony. His candlestick had been there. I need not insist amongst Christians that the light and the presence of God were spiritually dwelling in the midst of Christians. Nevertheless, Jerusalem’s responsibility and her position before the world only ceased in her destruction by the judgment of God. After this, God’s candlestick, in a terrestrial sense, was in the professing church. Till then, Christians had been, to the eye of the world, a sect of the Jews. Thus we see Aquila and Priscilla at a distance from Rome, because Claudius had commanded that every Jew should depart from it. At Antioch, in the midst of the Gentiles, which was the starting-point of the labours of Paul, apostle of the Gentiles, the believers begin to have a peculiar name. They were first called Christians at Antioch; Acts 11:26.

Thus God was preparing little by little, and especially by the mission of Paul, another candlestick before the world. Jerusalem, labouring under the weight of her sins and the guilt of the blood of the Just One, by the judgments of God upon her, disappears entirely from the scene, and the professing church is the only witness for God remaining before the world. The judgment of God upon the earth consequently connects itself with the professing church. The position of the church was perhaps more happy before, when she had only to seek her blessings from house to house, (Acts 2:46), and while the temple remained the public place of the testimony of God; yet God is always faithful to His own, and wise in His ways. It is, however, under this new character that the church is considered in the Apocalypse. Christ is there judging in the midst of the candlesticks. In the prophetical part, the church is no more seen on earth. The judgments concern the world, and the events proceed from the throne on high, not from Christ walking on earth in the midst of the candlesticks, which shone very little perhaps, but which still were there.

Thus the addresses to the seven churches, while applying to the seven churches in Asia, and severally to any one, are applicable to the professing church so long as she retains this place manifestly on the earth. In detail it may be removed from one place and carried to another, as has been the case. We must remember also that the characteristic condition of one church may begin, and that of another still continue. Alas! the state of the church at Ephesus has continued to the end, and the candlestick will be removed. Many more sorrows have occurred in the meantime. One thing more is to be remarked. The characters according to which Christ acts in the midst of the churches until Thyatira are those found in the revelation of His glory in what preceded; chap. 1. This is no longer the case from Sardis, save the fact that He retains in His hand the authority over the churches; the seven stars are still there. But the names He takes (that is to say, the character according to which He acts, and which is the object of intelligent faith in the church) must always be looked for farther off in the knowledge of Christ. They are beyond that revelation of Himself which constitutes the basis of His relationship with the churches in the normal position which He takes towards them here.

In the church at Sardis then, the testimony of the churches, in a certain sense, begins as it were anew, while still remaining part of the whole. The Spirit repeats this characteristic trait— Jesus holds the seven stars in His right hand. But the position is less ecclesiastical, and has more of what is essential in the nature of His relation with the churches. There is an exception to be made to what has been said in the case of Thyatira. “Son of God” is not part of the revelation of Christ in the preceding chapter. But it seems to me that the apostasy in principle which characterises the church in Thyatira (association with idols, and this being tolerated)—this fact had its place when a well-known ecclesiastical relation was coming to an end. Christ is the Son of God; it is under this essential title of the glory of His Person that He laid the basis of the church, and was the object of her faith. Thus the claims of the church, as being associated as co-heir with Him, in contrast with the nations, come in entirely in their place, when the professing church was abandoning her only faith, and the hope which was hers as set apart to God. The Morning Star, the dawn of a new day, shone in the heart of him that overcame under such circumstances. (Compare chap. 22:16.)

These seven churches, considered as a continued series of the history of the church, would then present to us the following epochs. Her first declension already in the time of John; the time of persecution; the professing church established in the empire or in the world, and the germ of the ecclesiastical apostasy; the time of this ecclesiastical apostasy, when Jezebel is seducing and tolerated; Sardis, the time of Protestantism as a system established in the earth; the time when, deprived of strength, faithfulness to the word of the patience of Christ characterises those who knew it; the time of saying We are rich, when, in true riches, everything is wanting. This last is the final state—the lukewarmness which Christ spues out of His mouth.

Observe, that we must not look for energy producing effects, but for the effect produced by that energy. This is what God judges. He acts in energy. Thus the Reformation was the energy of the Holy Ghost; the state of Protestantism is a thing which He judges. The churches characterise the state, the position of the Christian testimony which attracts the attention of the world—the candlestick which is there to give light. If this is the case, it is evident that the study of the speciality of these churches is of the utmost interest to my reader. I earnestly entreat him to make it his study—so much the more, because the most precious traits of the heavenly joy are found therein.

I shall only add a few words more in general on the whole. The promises made to the first two churches relate to the general recompense, and are, of course, so to speak, for every Christian. The promise made to the third relates to a personal and individual knowledge of Jesus, which supposes that strength for faithfulness of walk is already found more in the faith and in the faithfulness of the individual. Jesus is known alone, and also enjoyed alone. There is in the church of Thyatira, amidst the general iniquity, a remarkable faithfulness and devotedness; and the Spirit of God, while leaving to the body the character of the candlestick, that is to say, the responsibility of witnessing before the world, distinguishes entirely those who had not taken part in this iniquity. Observe chapter 2:24, where the lesson is still stronger, or at least more clear, in all the critical editions.

We may observe that in the last three churches that of Sardis is threatened with the judgment of the world. (Compare 1 Thess. 5.) That of Philadelphia becomes of an inestimable price for the faithful of this time. The coming of Jesus is declared therein to sustain faith in a peculiar manner. And, finally (shewing at the same time His perfect patience, if any of His abode there still), we see in the case of Laodicea the professing church spued out of the Lord’s mouth.

Chapters 4, 5

These two chapters together form a whole, a sort of preface, which introduces us into the scene where the prophet was introduced, that is to say, heaven. The prophecy, properly so called, begins only with chapter 6, at the opening of the seals.

Chapter 4 begins with the things which must be hereafter;4 that is to say, after the seven churches. The things that he saw are the glory of Christ in the midst of the churches. The things which are are the seven churches. The things which must be hereafter begin when the churches are set aside; chap. 3:16; compare chap. 4:1:19. The seven churches are a moral prophecy, containing promises and threatenings, founded on a certain conduct. The church, being judged as it were, is put aside. These letters may be applied to the church in every state thus described. They are the voice of Jesus judging the state of the churches.

In chapter 4 we see the things which are to come afterwards. It is no more the things which are: these last so long as the church remains. It is from that term “which are” that the double interpretation of the Apocalypse proceeds. If the seven churches are taken as a sketch of the history of the church, Laodicea, the last one, receives this sentence— “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Consequently, the church is then no more recognised on earth; and what follows in the Revelation is the history of the government of God, and the chastisements sent on the earth from that time, until Christ comes to establish His kingdom. If the churches are taken in a literal sense, the types of the prophecy must be applied to events which have for the greater part already taken place; but in any case the church in the Revelation is neither recognised nor presented on earth from chapter 4, from the time that the scene changes, and that John, leaving “the things which are,” is introduced into heaven to see “the things which are to come.”

The things which are being then put aside, chapter 4 begins. As long as those things are, nothing in chapter 4 has yet taken place. In this chapter the church is always looked at as being in heaven, although she is not as yet manifested (which only takes place in chapters 19 and 20). The subject of chapter 4 is creation, and the right of God over creation.

The subject of chapter 5 is the rights of the Lamb as Redeemer, Jesus’ right of redemption. The Holy Ghost is no more presented in God’s relations with His children; it is the relationship of God and of the world. Since Jesus has rights over the world, He is presented here in the throne, and God likewise is seen sitting on it. The right of God’s throne in creation. The right of the Lamb in redemption. This is, as a summary, the subject of these two chapters.

Chapter 4:1. Come up hither. The earth is done with (as his place); he leaves the earth. The time will come when there shall be a throne on the earth. In the passage before us God’s throne is in heaven. The throne of God was once on the earth at Jerusalem. This will take place once more, as it is said in Jeremiah 3:17. The shekinah of glory was in the temple; but from the time that Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar it entirely ceased. Then began the times of the Gentiles, and God gave the kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar.

At the beginning of Ezekiel the same cherubim are seen leaving the temple and the city; Ezek. 10:18; 11:23.5 Jehovah stands on the threshold of the house; Ezek. 9:3. At last He forsakes the house and the city—the earthly power was given to the Gentiles; Dan. 2:37. The people having been unfaithful, God forsook His people, and from that time He has not taken again His place in the earth. The only thing God did was to present His Son as King, and as having right to reign over the Jews; but the Son was rejected. From that time God is gathering the church, the co-heirs with Christ. Christ is sitting on the throne with the Father, where He is interceding for us. When the church, viewed as a dispensation on earth, has come to an end, the throne of God becomes again the centre of relation with the earth, and God begins to intervene again directly in the world, without having yet replaced His Son on the earth. If we examine the throne (v. 2, 5, 6), we find everything ordered there according to the pattern of the temple; but the subject is here government.

We find here all the characters of God except that of Father. The rainbow (v. 3) is God’s alliance with creation. There was no government before Noah. After the deluge, God makes a promise to bless the earth, and He sets man in power with the sword to rule and to repress evil. When the Jews were rejected, God transmitted the government to the Gentiles, who retain it until this day.

Verse 4. The twenty-four elders correspond with the twenty-four classes of priests in 1 Chronicles 24; but they are crowned. The number twenty-four represents twice twelve. One might perhaps see here the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles—the saints in the two dispensations.

Verse 5. The lightnings, the thunderings, the voices, are God’s power in judgment, and in ruling, as in Sinai. The seven lamps of fire are the manifestation of God in leading, enlightening, and blessing; it is the guiding power of the Holy Ghost with the elements of strength and wisdom. He discerns with a power which acts amidst what He discerns.

The sea of glass6 corresponds with the brazen sea of the tabernacle and of the temple, where however no veil is here seen. The sea of glass is a purity that has become solid, having taken the character of a permanent state; it is no more water, that is to say, a mere way of cleansing, as on the earth in the brazen sea.

The four living creatures full of eyes are the supporters of the throne. They have significative attributes. The Hon is expressive of strength, royal power. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. The resemblance to a calf recalls firmness, the solidity peculiar to the foot of the ox. The resemblance to a man’s face sets forth intelligence. The flying eagle designates rapidity in judgments. It is always God in the creation. It is an allusion to Ezekiel 1; but in Ezekiel every living creature had four faces, shewing the power of providence which sees all and acts on earth.

But here we see the stability and the firmness of God’s throne in heaven. We see here God’s power and His claims over creation, not the agents of this power. It has not been sufficiently observed that principles of action are here spoken of, and not agents. That is the reason why the four living creatures have not been well understood.

Verse 8. We have here still all the names of God, save the one in which the church is concerned—that of Father. He is Lord God Almighty, Eternal. These are the names by which God has revealed Himself in every dispensation.7 With the redeemed now He takes the name of Father. We have all that God has been on the earth with His people, and nothing else. These living creatures acknowledge God as the Holy One in all He does on earth, and they give Him glory.

Verse 9. The twenty-four elders prostrate themselves (it is positive worship), and do not, like the four living creatures, give glory merely. The church (it might perhaps be well to say the saints above; we must understand it as the twenty-four elders, including probably the faithful in the Old Testament) joins in the praises of the four living creatures, and worships God as the Creator (t\ n). It is not according to the relation between God and the church. The church here sees God as the Creator. It is important to apprehend this character of government of the things of this world. It is from this throne, as the centre of government, that everything in the Revelation comes. This throne is about to intervene in the government of the earth, and it is precisely because Christ comes to claim His rights to the government of the earth, that Antichrist is preparing to make war with Christ.

Chapter 5. We find in this chapter another truth of great moment; it is the right of the Lamb put to death, to open the book and to set all these things in motion. Verse 5. We have here the counsels of God in giving the inheritance to His Son. This book, sealed with seven seals, is the book of the inheritance (that is, of the investiture)—the description of the means used by God in order to put Jesus in possession— of His ways in judgment full of patience to the end, of which the right of redemption which devolves on Jesus forms the basis. (See Isaiah 26:5-11.) Jeremiah, in chapter 32, tells us that the purchase of an inheritance was subscribed on two books, one sealed, and the other open. The sealed book is the contract of the inheritance that is to be given to the Son. Who can unroll the events which will invest Christ with the inheritance of the earth? No one but Christ Himself. Who has a right to do it? He alone, the Redeemer, who has purchased it, who by His blood and by His power can claim and deliver everything as His own. (Compare Eph. 1.) Alas! there is no weeping now, because no one is found worthy to read the book; because one does not understand how the inheritance shall be given to the Son of man. However, the “Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Adam had a right to the inheritance, but he lost it. Christ had to redeem this right from Satan’s hands. He had to pay the price: and this price was His own death, which He gave for it. He has redeemed everything for Himself. All was created by Him and for Him; but through Adam this lower creation fell into Satan’s hands, who uses it to corrupt men and to keep them at a distance from God.

Verses 6, 10. In the midst of the throne and of the elders stood a Lamb as it had been slain. The Lamb had seven horns. The horns are the emblem of power; seven is the symbol of perfection. The seven horns are expressive of perfection in power; the seven eyes are the perfection of the Spirit who sees all. It is the active power of the perfect wisdom of the Lamb who acts on the earth. The Lamb is always seen as if it had been slain, and not as yet manifested in glory. Boaz had to redeem Elimelech’s land, and Ruth is a type of the redeemed. Jesus, the true Boaz, the alone mighty One, redeems Ruth, His own people, and the land of Elimelech, the earth. That which gives to the Lamb the right to exercise all power is that He has paid the ransom to God. God had, as it were, lost the inheritance. But the Lamb has redeemed it to God.

Verse 10. The joy of those whom He has redeemed.8 They rejoice because they know they shall reign on earth, according to the right of Jesus which they can claim. They see the Lamb having taken the book, and God beginning to intervene, in order to give Christ the government of the earth, and they see that they shall reign.

Verses 11-14. The angels do not say that He has redeemed them. He only preserved them. Creation has again her voice to bless Him who redeemed her. God lives for ever and ever. Man having killed the Heir, it would seem for a while that the inheritance is his. But God lives for ever and ever. The patience of God and His goodness in the midst of evil will have been manifested. If there had been no evil, the goodness of God would never have been thus manifested. But God has overcome evil with good. The church’s place is to be in the intimacy of God and to understand Christ’s intentions and God’s thoughts. These things have been revealed unto us by His Spirit. It is, in this sense, knowledge which distinguishes the church. Hereafter, the church will enjoy all that Christ possesses in power. These two chapters arc very important for the understanding the glory of Christ and the Revelation. The glory of Christ is that which is particularly brought out by the Revelation. If the reading of this book makes the glory of Christ precious to us, our enjoyment of it will be much greater. May God shed abroad that love in our hearts and give us to delight in the love of Jesus!

Chapter 6

We have seen the character under which God is presented to us in this book. The Revelation presents God as the Most High God; we see therein the throne of God Almighty in the world. The things connected with providence are under this government.

We have seen, besides, that the Lamb has a right to the inheritance. The great object of the book of the Revelation is the Son of man invested with the inheritance which He has redeemed, and of which He has taken away the defilement. All the creation of God has been defiled. The day of atonement furnishes us with a type of its redemption by Jesus. We see in that type, first, the blood on the mercy-seat, by which alone God could enter into relation with any one; secondly, the blood on the tabernacle defiled by the sins of the people; thirdly, the confession by the high priest of the sins of the people on the head of the scape-goat. The creation is redeemed as well as the church—the church, to be co-heir with Christ; the creation, to be the inheritance. The inheritance is given to the Son of man; such is the grand subject here presented to us. He alone has the right to open the book. Redemption has given Him this right.

The Lamb begins the opening of the seals. He does not yet appear to take possession of the inheritance and to execute the judgment. He is still the Lamb in the midst of the throne, in heaven during the interval in which God takes the government, without having yet given the throne to the Son. We see what passes before Jesus takes possession of the inheritance.

Verse 1. “One of the four living creatures [beasts],” it is still providence which is in action here. These symbols are a surely defined language, as well as any other, when you have once apprehended the proper meaning of each of them according to the word of God. The application of a symbol has often been mistaken for its meaning. Thus Christ is called the Sun of Righteousness; but Sun does not mean Christ. The sun is merely a symbol of glory and supreme government. God made the sun to rule the day; Gen. I:16. One would err in leaving out the abstract idea, and in taking the sun for Christ.

A horse represents that action of providence which manifests itself in the government of the earth under different forms, and more accurately the imperial power considered as the effect of the work of God, or of the agents He makes use of. It is a symbol which may be figurative of Christ, or of an emperor, or of some one else. An allusion is here made to Zechariah 1, where the horses represent empires which have exercised dominion over the Jews. The white horse is victory and triumph. I do not see Christ here. Christ is still the Lamb in the midst of the throne. We do not yet see Christ here going forth to the victory and the destruction of His enemies, which is symbolised by the white horse in chapter 19. Here we have Christ, the Lamb, still hidden in God, who begins to act. We have here the providential preparations of the divine government for the coming of Jesus.

Verse 2. The first thing manifested is a great conqueror. Verses 3, 4. The second step, in what precedes the coming of Christ, is peace taken from the earth. Verses 5, 6. Famine. Verses 7,8. The four judgments of God on earth; Ezek. 14:21. They are the four deadly plagues which God sends to exercise His judgments. Here, it is something which stamps God’s character on the state of things in the prophetic earth, and shews that He is intervening. Men should give heed to this; Matt. 24:5-8.

These calamities are the beginning of sorrows. It is in Judea that the closing scene is to take place. These plagues are in the same order here as in Matthew 24. Peace is taken from the earth, famine, pestilence, and then come earthquakes, as we shall see. In Matthew 24 the Lord is applying this to the duty of His disciples in Judea. Although there has been a partial fulfilling of this at the time when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, yet it would be impossible to apply the things which are said there to that ruin. These things evidently relate to a future event. According to Daniel, at the end of twelve hundred and ninety days, after setting up the abomination that makes desolate, happiness will come again on the earth; Dan. 12:11. But this is not yet fulfilled, nor has anything like it followed the ruin of Jerusalem. Indeed, nothing concerning the ruin of Jerusalem, by Titus certainly, answers to the details given in this part of scripture. The four deadly plagues which God sends fall on the earth, and precede the manifestation of the Son of man.

Verses 9-11. The fifth seal brings us to an important point. All the scene passes as in the temple. There are, under the altar, the souls of those that were slain like burnt offerings.9 They are dead as to this world, but not as to God. God sees them and shews them alive. There will be those who will be put to death, even from amongst those who believe and bear witness that the earth belongs to God. Our testimony at present is, that heaven and everything belongs to God, and that our portion is with Jesus there. There will be quite a different testimony at the end, namely, that the earth belongs to God, and has been redeemed by Jesus. The two witnesses in chapter 11 stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth. Their testimony would be quite as complete if there were no heaven, save that the rightful Heir is there. The question will then be this, Does the earth belong to God? This is what the Antichrist and the men of the earth will not admit. The testimony is that of Elias and Moses (chap, 11:6) as to the circumstances and signs which confirm it. In the time of Elias the people were in apostasy, and in the time of Moses they were in captivity. Such will be the state of the earthly people then. There will be a testimony rendered to God’s claims on the earth. Our testimony is the testimony of salvation and of the church; it is not connected with earth, although we understand what the word of God says concerning it.

The souls cry for vengeance; it is the character of the Spirit of prophecy; it is not that of the church. She does not say, “How long dost thou not avenge our blood? “This characterises the Psalms also. Deliverance is expected from the destruction of her enemies, whilst the church’s rest is by her removal from among them. The Spirit of Christ, as the King and Judge of the earth, cries for vengeance to God on the evil; Isa. 26:1, 9. The wicked has not the upper hand with me now; if he kill me, death is mine, and he only sends me where I desire to be.

“Those that dwell on the earth” is a particular expression in the book of Revelation. There are those who dwell in the heavens—it is the church.10 The same is true of those who are put to death during the reign of Antichrist, or who shall have been beheaded for their testimony. “We have no abiding city here.” We are like the Levites and priests without inheritance in Israel. The inhabitants of the earth are the enemies of God, the race of Cain driven from the presence of God, who settled in the earth. The world was judged from the moment Christ was rejected. All those who will settle in the earth share in the curse of Cain. Man sinned against God, and the earth was cursed. But when Cain had killed his brother, he was cursed from the earth, and, driven out of God’s presence, he went and built a city and settled in the earth. This is what the world does after having put Jesus to death. They that dwell on the earth are those on whom the judgment shall fall.

The souls under the altar do not doubt their possession of heaven. The expression “How long? “is a technical one, signifying either that God is chastening, or that one is enduring some evil; but also, inasmuch as it is on His own, expressing confidence that this chastisement will come to an end. It is faith in the midst of chastisement or of suffering, which is looking to God for His intervention; Isa. 6:11. It is those who are in heaven that cry for vengeance on the inhabitants of the earth.11 It is altogether another position from that of the church. The current of our thoughts is altogether changed, because the government of God and His taking possession of the earth is the whole matter in question here. Verse 11. Although the time is near when all must be closed, nevertheless, there are still witnesses. Verses 12-17. There is still here an important preliminary, the sixth seal. All these things are to precede the day of Christ. But the terror of men is already so great, that they believe the day has arrived. The earthquakes indicate the breaking up of the arrangement of things on earth, an overthrow of everything. The sun (that is to say, the glory and the supreme government) loses its brightness. Everything gives way and sinks under the hand of God—even authorities established above the earth. In verse 14 it is said that every mountain was moved out of its place; and in verse 15, that they hid themselves in the mountains. One sees here that the symbols are not to be taken literally.

In Joel 2:30 we learn that these things take place before the day of the Lord—before the execution of judgment. There are many things which precede that day, which are not even events on earth, but preliminaries in the government of God; Psalm 2:8, 12. Christ does not as yet ask of God the world for His own; His requests now only apply to the church. When He claims the earth, it is for judgment; but (v. 12) there are warnings for the kings of the earth. There the question is, not that of recognising the Son as the Saviour, but as the King who has a right to possess the earth. All who belong to Christ shall be with Him, and shall have power over the nations; chap. 2:26, 27. This power then is, not the assembling of the church together, but the exercise of the power of Him who is on the throne, and the warning in Psalm 2 is in order that the kings may be rendered attentive and submissive. Christ has not only the right of gathering souls for heaven, but also to be put in possession of the earth.

Nothing is more proper than prophecy to move the heart and to separate it from this present evil world. God lays His hand on everything that is in this world. The scene of the world is nothing, it only draws away from God, and will be the object on which the judgment of the Son of God shall fall when He comes again.

Chapter 7

We have seen the manifestation of the throne and of the power of God acting in government over the world; the right of the Lamb to intervene on earth and to open the seals; then the plagues of God preparatory to this intervention.

Chapter 7 forms a parenthesis between the sixth and the seventh seals, for God is going to intervene in a more special and positive manner at the centre of everything, in Canaan; but He will not do anything before He has separated His Jewish people and set His seal upon them. God does not any longer confine Himself now to a beginning of sorrows, and He seals His people on earth. We see at the same time those that are sealed on earth and those that are already in heaven.

Verse 2. From the east: Christ is the dayspring. The angel ascends from the east, from whence the Sun of Righteousness is to rise on earth. It is always the day for those who are in the light. The day of the Lord is the day of judgment for those who are on earth. The day of the Lord and the coming of Jesus are two very distinct things. When the scripture speaks of the coming of Jesus, it applies the expression, not only to the day of the Lord, but also to what precedes that day, that is, to the rapture of the church, which goes to meet the Lord in the air; 1 Thess. 4:15, 17. The day for those who are of the day is the light, the blessing, when the day of Christ shall dawn on earth. We shall be like the rays of that sun; but for the wicked, that day will be their confusion. The living God is the God who has life, and not the God of judgment. The life of God is powerful, more powerful than death which Satan holds in his hand.

Verse 5. We have here a principle which is very precious. In all the overthrowings, in all the preparations for the judgments of God, the power of the angel, who displays God’s power in mercy, is greater than the power of the angels who execute the judgments of God. The good is more powerful than the evil. That angel who holds the seal can cry with a loud voice, Do not hurt. This may be seen also in the case of Lot, who is a type of the remnant that escapes at the coming of the Son of man. The angels could do nothing to Sodom until he had left it. There is, therefore, a precedence in the attributes of God, and His mercy always goes before His justice. The first thing the angel does is to mark the servants of the Lord on their forehead, that it may be manifested to the whole world. Those that are marked are the remnant of Israel on earth; they are not the children of God (that is, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, the faithful in the present dispensation). In one sense, we ought to have the seal on our forehead, that is to say, an open confession of the name of the Lord Jesus; but as for the Christian, the seal of God is in himself, that he may have the enjoyment and the liberty of communion with the Son and with the Father. Having this seal, we are manifested in the sight of the powers in heavenly places. But here we have a seal and a manifestation on earth.

Verses 5-8. The number twelve is symbolical; it is the perfect number of those who escape of the remnant in Israel. God alone can know the number of those He seals. We have the unction of the Holy Ghost to understand all things; the seal of the Holy Spirit, in order to enjoy the communion of God, as knowing that we are His, and are assured of His favour; also the earnest of the Holy Spirit in order to rejoice in the expectation of those things that we know. This privilege is far above what we find here. Our portion is to be blessed with Him that blesses; Israel’s portion is to be blessed on the earth.

Verses 9-12. As to the great multitude of all tongues, and kindreds, and peoples, and nations, the language they hold in verse 10 is not the expression of the enjoyment of the children with the Father.12 They confine themselves to acknowledge God as the God who saves. One may be standing in the contemplation of the glory, or prostrate oneself in adoration. This is the variety seen in heaven. It is ever God and the Lamb that are spoken of here, not the enjoyment of the children with the Father. Those that are in the world do not see Him as He is. We see Him as He is in the glory of the Father. Israel will see Him in His own glory, and we shall be in that glory with Jesus, as Jesus is in the glory of the Father. The multitute here worship standing before the throne, ascribing their salvation unto God and unto the Lamb. The elders prostrate themselves apart, celebrating the glory of God Himself. What we are considering is not the sweetest thought of our relations with God.

Verses 13, 14. It is one of the elders that speaks, and not one of the four living beings: because it is the heavenly joy that is spoken of here, and not God’s providence over the earth. It is important to observe the variety of classes and of blessings which are found at different times in the Revelation. Those who have come out of the great tribulation are a distinct class; they are those, it seems to me, who will have gone through the events which follow, and especially who will have come out of the great tribulation foretold in Revelation 3:10.

The tribulation in Matthew 24:21 is more particularly connected with what will take place in Judea, or rather at Jerusalem, under Antichrist, and is applied to the Jews. Those who have come out from the great tribulation (some translate of “great tribulation,” or of “a great tribulation,”) are not the church properly so called; for, as is seen in Revelation 3:10, she will be kept out of it. I do not mean either, that they are the same persons as those spoken of in connection with the great tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24:15, 22, for in Matthew those persons are evidently Jews: whereas, in the chapter before us, they that came out of the great tribulation are Gentiles. “A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.” There is a certain vagueness, moreover, in the expressions; and this, it seems to me, according to the intention of the Holy Spirit. They are specially recognised of the four elders; but they do not appear to be the church, properly so called.

Verse 15. These are Jewish ideas; the presence of God in the midst of His people, serving God in His temple, contemplating the exquisite beauty of His temple and of His palace. We serve God, either in adoring Him, or in working for Him. “They serve him day and night in his temple.”

Verses 16, 17. God is a tabernacle over them,13 as if to solace them. The Lamb feeds and leads them. God would dispel, in the souls of those that are His, the dread of His Majesty, by the thoughts of His gentleness, His meekness. A soul that is unconverted has no idea of a God tender, gentle, who “wipes away tears.” God will have us near Him, as children near their father. He loves His children enough to take notice of all their afflictions, to comfort them, and to wipe away their tears.

Chapter 8

Verse 1. There is silence, repose. Verse 2. God is announcing Himself. He is going to intervene in a more direct manner. He is announcing Himself by the trumpets. Verses 3-5. There were two altars in the temple. The temple was divided in two by the veil, which separated the holy place from the most holy. The altar of incense was in the holy place outside the veil, and outside this latter was the altar of burnt offering;14 that is to say, in the world. It is in the world that Christ suffered, and that the saints suffer also. The altar of incense was in the sanctuary, and the incense ascended up to the throne of God in the holiest: the altar stood immediately before the throne. The saints are still in sorrow; their cries and their supplications ascend up before God, who begins to intervene. The cries of the saints cause God to intervene with judgment. Jesus is the angel here who presents the prayers of the saints. He does not present Himself as their Advocate with the Father, which is what refers to our spiritual state, but as calling down the judgments of God on those who oppressed them.

Verses 6-13. We see God intervening in a positive manner, by His judgments. First trumpet. God’s judgment falling on the prophetical earth; that is, on the four monarchies. The trees figure that which is elevated, eminent, lofty; the green herb is prosperity. Second trumpet. The sea, the people that are not in the prophetic earth, the mass of people.

Third trumpet. The rivers: this symbolical emblem is difficult to understand easily. I have observed, I think, two things in the use that scripture makes of it. First, the people, the rivers have laid waste the land of Israel. Secondly, the principles which govern those people. The rivers represent the activity of the people under certain principles; Isa. 8:5-8. The waters of the river (v. 7), are the king of Assyria and all his glory. Thus, in Isaiah 59:19, Psalm 93:3, 4, the rivers are the people over which the Eternal has trampled, to establish His kingdom which is recognised in this psalm. “And there fell a great star.” It is a power in a state of fall; the bitter waters are the corruption of the principles of the people.

The fourth trumpet. The sun is the supreme power and glory. The moon and the stars are subaltern glories, of an order inferior to that of the sun. The people of God are in misery, their prayers are ascending up. God intervenes and smites the earth, not yet the inhabitants thereof, but their circumstances, their riches, the things in which they delight. To-day, on the contrary, while it is yet called the day of grace, God smites in order to convert and to chastise His children, while we often see the wicked prospering greatly.

The three following trumpets concern the inhabitants of the earth; but until the fourth trumpet has sounded the judgments are only outward judgments. Even before these outward woes can coma, God is marking and sealing His elect ones; these judgments do not hurt them; they fall on those who afflict them.

The heavenly people suffer with Christ for the sake of Jesus. This is something higher than suffering for conscience’ sake. The kingdom of God is for those who suffer for righteousness’ sake; but the reward of those who suffer for Jesus’s sake shall be great in heaven. Abraham and Lot are a proof of this. Lot sees the plain of Jordan and chooses the earth. He is in outward blessing; but he is in the land of Sodom; He draws nearer and nearer to Sodom; and at last we see him an inhabitant there. Abraham is far from it; God apprises him of what He is going to do for Sodom.

The church in peace, beloved of God, and separated from the world, converses with God on what is going to happen to the world. Israel would have the world; they said, Let us kill the heir and the inheritance shall be ours. The church says with Thomas, “Let us go also, that we may die with him,” John 11:16. Israel, therefore, will be in affliction, as Lot was in Sodom; but will escape as through fire. The remnant of Israel will love righteousness; but, having loved the world, suffers the affliction and the anguish of a man who finds himself where the judgments of God will fall on the world; Abraham saw afar off the smoke ascending up from the plain; but he was not there.

There are afflictions brought on through faithfulness; this is then suffering with Christ. There are others also which proceed from unfaithfulness. It is well to remark that there are blessings, through God’s mercy, connected with faithfulness in a position which, by the weakness of our faith, we have been led into; but these are not the blessings attached to a simple faith. And they are accompanied with sufferings and sorrows which have more or less the character of chastisements. What concerns the judgment of the world is interesting to the church, because God communicates to her, as to a friend, what will happen to the world. Can a friend not feel interested in what his friend communicates to him?

It is absolutely necessary that we should renounce everything. We shall have to do so sooner or later, either with joy by the Spirit of Christ, or with shame when the judgments of God shall break every tie that is still keeping us back. We must then leave everything, or else be burnt up with Sodom. Prophecy has a special power to separate us from this present evil world, which the patience of God can bear, because He is taking His own out of it, but which is judged already nevertheless.

Chapters 9, 10, 11:18

These present chapters carry us down to the close of the book of Revelation in the general scope of the prophecy. Chapter n:18 closes the general history. It is the conclusion of the history of the government and of the judgment of God on the earth. There is something progressive in the action of the providential government of God over men. We see, first, things of ordinary occurrence, such as famines, pestilences. After this there are judgments more striking, powers falling; then, in the first four trumpets, men judged in their circumstances. In the last three trumpets the judgments fall on men themselves. After chapter 12 we have the history of the apostasy.

Chapter 9. Fifth trumpet. The star falling on the earth is a heavenly power fallen. The key of the bottomless pit was given unto him. God permits Satan to act sometimes for the good of His children, sometimes to let His judgments fall on His enemies. Satan and his angels are rejoiced to lay hold of an opportunity to do evil. God is coming here to chastise the wickedness of men. There are already on earth elect ones of the twelve tribes in Israel who have the seal of God marked on their foreheads. They were sealed of God before they knew it themselves. The progress of their knowledge is not our subject here; but Daniel u, 12, and the Psalms may be consulted.

Verse 2. Here is a diabolical influence which obscures the government of the earth. The smoke darkens the air and the sun (that is, the ordinary state of the earth, with regard to its government and the general influences which act on men).

Verse 4. This diabolical power not only obscures that which gives light to men, but it torments them and exercises a deadly influence over them. Wholesome influences are poisoned by it, and this power which rises from the bottomless pit penetrates everywhere.

Verse 3. God’s purpose is not yet to kill men. Satan, whatever his power and his malice, cannot do anything but what is in the purpose of God. It is a moral diabolical power over men who have not the mark of God on their forehead. This power has no influence on the grass, on the verdure (on circumstances), but only on those who are not recognised of God.15 Satan has power to torment the enemies of God with judgments, which affect them first in their circumstances, and then in their own persons, and torment them because the first judgments had not produced their due effect.

Verses 5, 6. The anguish is such that men desire to die. Verse 7. It is a people raised up to act in judgment over others. It is the form Satan’s power takes. Crowns like gold have an appearance of royal justice, pretending perhaps to be divine. Verse 8. Their power of destruction is seen. Verse 9. Their power to hurt is in their tail. The tail is the image of the false prophets. Compare Isaiah 9:14. Verse 11. They have a king who rules the satanical darkness, which can act upon the earth. He is the destroyer, Apollyon. Thus God acts in a much more direct way on men, not now merely on their circumstances only. This is the first woe.

Sixth trumpet (v. 13-21). The angel sounds on the summons of Christ. The Lord is still hidden; but He is already occupied with the earth, where He has a people for whom He is interceding. (Compare Isaiah 30:18.) A voice is heard from the four horns of the golden altar, or the altar of incense (Exodus 40:26, 27), from the altar of intercession. The voice gives an order to the angel who sounded the sixth trumpet. The intercession does not apply to the moral condition or to the spiritual conflicts of those who profit by them, but to the manifestation of the judgments of God, which will in time operate the deliverance of an earthly people.

Verse 15. Men are not only tormented now, but their life is attacked. Verse 17. Fire and sulphur are the power of judgment, of death and hell, in the hands of Satan, over men. Verse 19. There is further here the power of the prophet of lies; at the same time, as a special satanical power, that of the ancient serpent. Verses 20, 21. All these previous judgments do not alter men, who are poisoned by the tails of the horses (which, like unto serpents, have power with their heads to hurt men). They have been given up to Satan, and strong delusion has been sent unto them that they should believe a lie; 2 Thess. 2:11. The same had happened to the Pagans, who were given up to a spirit of darkness and of unbelief (Rom. 1:28), and to the Jews also, whose heart was made fat. God did send them the word of truth, but they preferred a lie, and God gave them up to their own desire—a lie, and a lie that works efficaciously. It is an awful judgment. Those who will not receive the word of truth may prosper in their outward circumstances; but this prosperity precedes their ruin. This is what the world has to expect.

Chapter 10. This chapter forms a parenthesis, an episode. There is a system of great moment, which is to develop itself, the apostasy. It is what we have most minutely described in the Apocalypse. Before closing what is connected with the government of God on earth, it is necessary to introduce the subject of this apostasy. This is done here. The scene passes in judea. The nations have gathered round Jerusalem like unto sheaves ready for the judgments of God to pass on them. Till this time the immediate intervention of God had not taken place on the earth.

The first book had seals. Here, it is a book open, where every one may read, which, while applying to the earth, is also applicable to an open and public testimony to His name and the walk or profession which accompanies it, not to the hidden things of God in providence. Verse 1. The rainbow designates God’s alliance with creation, and His faithfulness towards creation; the sun, supreme power; the pillars of fire, firmness of judgment. Verse 2. This revelation is given by Christ Himself, as having dominion over the earth, and as going to take possession of it in judgment. There is no more mystery, for the book is open. We do not see here Christ as the Lion of Juda, but the rights which belong to Christ. He sets one foot on the earth, the other on the sea; that is to say, on the prophetic earth and on things standing outside, particularly the world. Verse 3. The seven thunders. All God’s rights over the earth, and His voice, which makes those rights be heard. The manner in which this takes place is not revealed.

Verses 5-10. Judgment is still suspended until the seventh trumpet should have sounded. There would, however, no longer be delay, but the mystery of God would be accomplished, as He had announced to the prophets. There will be a special object of the last judgment, the beast which comes up from the bottomless pit. The object of that judgment must appear, before the judgment can take place. The revelation of God that was given to John was very sweet to him. But when he meditates on the contents of the prophecy for his people, his soul is filled with bitterness.

Verse 11. The nations and the kings must appear again at the end to be the object of the last judgment. God has never lost sight of them. Those nations, those tongues, which are the result of the confusion of Babel (that is to say, all the nations spoken of in Genesis 10 and 11) reappear either in Daniel, or Ezekiel, or elsewhere, as in Psalm 83, in order to be the objects of judgment.

Chapter 11:1-18. There are worshippers and prophets, that is to say, a testimony. The Gentiles do their own will, and tread the holy city under their feet. God has a remnant which is sealed, and He communicates with them. Verses 1, 3. We see here the altar of holocausts; the temple and the worshippers found therein are distinguished. The rest is trodden under foot.

Verse 2. Forty-two months. There is one week remaining out of the weeks of Daniel: seven weeks and sixty-two weeks to the time of the Messiah. The events of the last week are irrespective of what concerns the church. It is of this last week, as it is of the sixty-nine others; they were “determined” on the people of Israel and on the holy city; Dan. 9:24. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” Sixty-nine weeks were elapsed up to the Messiah, but He was cut off; Dan. 9:26. The church is a heavenly system, not providential, which has nothing in common with earthly things, or with the temple at Jerusalem.16 The remaining week remains still to be fulfilled. We have here the history of this last week.17 At that time, God will resume with the Jews His laws, His judgments, and His terrestrial government.

We now have something precise in statement—Jerusalem; a people at Jerusalem; the city trodden under foot by the Gentiles. These are Israel’s relations with God. Israel would not submit to Christ; they will submit to Antichrist. There is a small remnant who will not recognise Antichrist; but the mass of the people will recognise him. God is watching over this remnant whom He has sealed. I do not mean to say, however, that the sealed remnant is confined to these, for there are others of the twelve tribes that are sealed also. There is a testimony of God against men by prophets.

Verse 3. The two witnesses are prophets in affliction. Verse 4. God is Lord over the earth. He will not permit the times of the Gentiles to last any longer, nor that they should tread under their feet what they cannot devour. This is finished. God is going to shew Himself as Lord over the earth. He had given the earth to the Gentiles; Dan. 2:37. His throne had judged and left Jerusalem; Ezek. chaps. 1 to 11— particularly chap. 10:18 and chap. 11:22. And He gives the dominion over the earth to Nebuchadnezzar, to the Gentiles; Dan. 2:37, 38. And until the times of the Gentiles are expired, Jerusalem shall be trodden under their feet; Luke 21:24. But God will resume again His place as Lord over the earth. The two witnesses render testimony to this lordship, to the Lord over the earth, not to the Father, or to the heavenly glory, to the Lord of heaven.

In Zechariah 4 we see a candlestick. All is in order, and everything in its place. Christ’s royalty and priesthood sustain and nourish the Jewish people, and all is in its place. But here all is in confusion. There are two candlesticks, two olive trees, but one does not know where to put them. Nothing is as yet settled; but there is a testimony rendered to these things, to their future fulfilment.

Verses 5-8. Such is the fate of the two witnesses, because the beast, the wicked one, assumes his empire, according to Satan’s power. The witnesses give testimony to God’s right over the earth. There is an allusion to the character of Moses and Elias. Egypt was visited with plagues under Moses; God’s people were then in captivity under the dominion of the Gentiles. Moses displayed God’s power against Pharaoh, in a way preparatory to the judgment that was to come on him. Elias shut heaven, and made fire come down thence. Elias came at the time of the apostasy of Israel. The last condition of Israel is worse than the first. The spirit of idolatry, the demon of Israel, shall take with him seven other spirits worse than himself, and shall enter again into Israel. The service of the two witnesses is that of Moses against Pharaoh, and that of Elias in the midst of an apostate people. But the beast comes up out of the bottomless pit and kills the two witnesses. This is all that takes place before the sounding of the last trumpet. The particulars about Antichrist are revealed in the subsequent part of the Apocalypse.

It is a serious thing to see the end of the age, and the judgment coming, not on the dead, but on the nations; to see how men are despising all the judgments of God, and how everything concentrates itself in two witnesses, and a little remnant at Jerusalem. It is written that the publicans believed, having received the baptism of John. But the Pharisees reject this baptism and do not believe in Jesus, and they harden their hearts against the Holy Ghost; while the publicans, having received the first testimony, receive also Jesus and then the Holy Ghost. It is important to apprehend the least warning, to listen to the smallest whisper of God’s voice, and to obey quickly His warning. There are always warnings that we have neglected previous to chastisements.

Verse 14. Two woes are passed, and the third woe, which ends with the judgment of Antichrist, comes quickly. Verses 15-18. Seventh trumpet. The particulars of this woe are not given here; they are given a little farther on; but the seventh seal is the signal for the intervention of God. (See chap. 10:7.) When the sound of this trumpet is heard, the intervention is celebrated in heaven with all its consequences. It is the result that is celebrated. The course of what is judged is reserved for what follows. This intervention18 begins with the judgment of Antichrist and that of the nations which are angry; but if it is with regard to them the moment when they are moved to anger, it is with regard to God’s servants and His saints and His prophets the time when God is pleased, in His faithfulness and His love, to give them their reward. Great voices are heard in heaven praising God and rejoicing, because the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The four and twenty elders give thanks and worship God, because the Lord God Almighty has taken His great power and has entered upon His reign. There is great joy in heaven, because the reign of iniquity and of the prince of this world has come to an end; because creation, which from the time of Adam was made subject to vanity and to the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-22), is come into blessing again, and, by the presence of the Last Adam, by the exercise of His blessed royalty and the manifestation of the children of God, and particularly because Jesus reigns—Jesus, hated by the world, Jesus despised and rejected of men, but Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father, the glorious Bridegroom of the glorified church!

Chapters 11:19; And 12

What precedes verse 19 of chapter 11 brings the general history of the ways of God to a termination. And before entering upon the judgments peculiar to the apostasy, the Apocalypse reveals to us more in detail what is to take place on earth. Verse 18 had brought us to the end—to the seventh trumpet. Verse 19 resumes the history from a higher point. We have in what follows, first, the causes of evil, and what proceeds from those causes; secondly, the development of Satan’s power and of the moving springs of evil in the instruments he uses, and which manifests itself under a very decided form; and thirdly, what God does in order to destroy the evil.

Chapter 11:19. The temple of God is seen open in heaven, and the ark of the covenant is seen in the temple. Before the evil is manifested, we have the joy that nothing can touch the ark, and that everything concerning the people of God is firmly settled and secured in heaven. In treating with His people God is binding Himself. This is the ark of His covenant. The power of God and His holiness must be manifested towards His people, and displayed in their favour. This is precious, for man’s heart will fail him at the sight of evil. But before God lets the evil be seen, He manifests to the eye of faith His temple and the ark of His covenant, where everything is stable, where nothing can be touched. The thunders can fall on the earth, but they cannot fall on God’s temple. It is no more the throne; it is the place for worship, the place where God is adored. The lightnings, the voices, the thunders, and the hail, are the action of God on the atmosphere of the earth, on what envelopes it. The terrors of God are acting on the world. The Apocalypse after this shews us the sources of evil, and the judgment of God on them.

Chapters 12, 13, 14 form a whole. Chapter 12 presents to us, in their great characters, the sources and the results; chapter 13 the development of evil on the earth, through Satan’s instruments; chapter 14 God’s relation with His people and with the world for good, and His judgment on Satan’s instruments which chapter 13 had made known to us.

Chapter 12 is divided into three parts; the first, beginning with verse 1 down to verse 6; the second, from verse 7 down to verse 12; the third, from verse 13 down to verse 17. First part. Verses 1-6 place before us the actors in this scene, viz., a woman with child of Him who is the object of all the counsels of God, and the vessel of His power on earth, while herself weak (she is, according to His counsels, clothed with supreme glory); a child mighty, but who does not yet act in His might, but is hidden and withdrawn into heaven, while the woman flees into the wilderness; a great red dragon, Satan, who would devour the child, and who hates the woman and persecutes her. The woman is clothed with the sun, with the glory of God, with all supreme authority. The moon is under her feet; all subordinate and derivative authority is under her feet. She has upon her head a crown of twelve stars—power in man displayed to perfection.19

The second sign in heaven is a child, the heir of strength. The woman is not the church. There is a great red dragon who is against the woman; it is Satan who resists the manifestation of the glory of the child and of the woman. His power is perfect in its kind; he has seven heads, with crowns, and ten horns. The tail is designative of the bad influence of error in doctrine. The dragon draws after him the third part of the stars of heaven, the authorities. Satan would devour the child. The child is Christ; it is also the church, as associated with Christ. Like Christ she is to govern the nations; Psalm 2 and Rev. 2:26, 27. The church receives this power from her being associated with Christ; she will, notwithstanding, be also active in heaven. When the Lord Jesus comes again, it will be in the display of His authority, for He shall rule all nations with a rod of iron, and the church will be with Him; Psalm 2:6-9; Rev. 2:27. It is what Christ will do when He has taken possession of the inheritance of the nations. Now, He looks for the church; John 17:9. Later, He will look for the world; Psalm 2:7. He makes the church to be partaker with Him in the possession of the world; Rev. 2:27. The male child then is Christ, the Head of the church which is His body. The Man complete is Christ and the church. Christ imparts to the church all He has; but the power of Christ is not yet displayed. Christ and the church are hidden in God. The woman, on the contrary, who was clothed with the sun, remains on the earth, and is in the desert. As soon as we are obliged to seek the woman on earth, it can be none else but the Jews. The church is only in heavenly places, she is not known on earth. Jerusalem is the centre where God recognises His people. It is the people of God, in relation with God, which becomes the woman on earth when the male child is in heaven. If we seek for the instruments on earth, we shall find that Christ was born of the Jews. In Zion it shall be said “This man was born there,” Psalm 87. We have the thought of God in the woman and the glory. We have, besides, the result of this thought, which is Christ. It is to the woman that Satan bears an ill-will; he hates her; but he cannot touch the child who is in heaven.

Second part, verses 7-12. We are told here the circumstances which force the woman to flee. Satan and his angels are in heaven; Eph. 6:12. Satan has access to the heavens which God created, where His throne is placed. It is there he was the accuser of Job; but Satan has no entrance into the light, which cannot be approached. Jesus says, speaking of the miracles of His disciples, “I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven.” From a feeble sample of the power of His name He sees all the power of Satan cast out from heaven. A war takes place now in heaven. Michael and his angels fight against the dragon and his angels. Michael is called the archangel in Jude 9. The word of God speaks of only one archangel. The immediate result of this war is that Satan is cast out from heaven into the earth. He has no more power in heaven. It is a great mistake to beheve that Satan is in the lake of fire. He is with the angels in heavenly places. Men will be found in the lake of fire burning with brimstone before Satan is there; chap. 19:20. He shall be cast out of heaven into the earth, where he will still act and deceive the nations. He is already worshipped amongst the pagans. As soon as the event here anticipatively announced by prophecy takes place, the heavens are for ever cleansed from the defilement and presence of Satan. He was overcome by those on earth, as accuser, by the blood of the Lamb. Satan’s accusations only draw out the manifestation of God’s favour towards His children. Cast out from heaven, Satan shall come again on the earth to gather the nations from the four quarters of the earth to battle, and to make war against heaven.

Third part, verses 13-17. Instead of seeing, as in verse i, the woman in heaven, having the sun for a crown (that is to say, agreeably to the thought and the counsels of God, a vessel without strength, but clothed with supreme authority), we find her in the earth. Christ issued from the woman, the Jews. The church is in nowise the mother of Christ; she is His bride. When Satan is cast out from heaven, he begins to make war with the seed of the woman, the Jews, the only testimony of God remaining then on earth.

Two wings of a great eagle are given to the woman. The strong man of God,20 Christ, does not yet exercise His power. The woman has nothing else to do but to flee for three years and a half, during which .time Satan exercises his power on earth with great fury. The only resource of the woman is to flee. Jesus foretold this in Matthew 24:16. As soon as the abomination that makes desolate shall stand in the holy place (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 11), three years and a half will elapse until the deliverance. At the beginning of these three years and a half the disciples are to flee to the mountains; Matt. 24:16. The woman fled to the desert. It is the last end of the indignation (Dan. 8:19) and of the vengeance; Isaiah 34:8; ch. 60:2; Jer. 50:15, 28; ch. 51:6, 22, etc.21

One cannot apply to the Roman eagles what is said of the abomination of desolation. Nothing, from the time Jerusalem was taken by Titus, coincides with the twelve hundred and ninety days in Daniel 12:11, even calculating, as some would do, twelve hundred and ninety years instead of twelve hundred and ninety days.

The serpent does all he can to kill the woman, even when she flees. There remaineth (v. 17) a remnant of the seed of the woman, with whom Satan shall make war. Those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,* are those who have the Spirit of prophecy, who are attached to Jesus (that is to say, to the testimony of the Spirit of prophecy, which is God’s testimony to God’s promise, and not to Antichrist). The flood which the dragon casts out of his mouth is a mass of people; Isaiah 8:7, 8. When the king of Assyria and all his glory come to lay waste through Judea, they are presented under the image of a flood and of waters strong and many. The earth swallows the flood which the dragon casts out after the woman. God, in His providence, prevents these nations from devouring and destroying Israel.

We have here the end of the last week in Daniel. What remains of the week is connected with the things of the earth. It still remains to be fulfilled. After the way which we find mentioned here, Satan will never regain heaven. After having been cast into the bottomless pit and bound there for a thousand years, he shall regain the earth and seduce the nations (chap. 20:8), but he will never regain heaven.

The inhabiters of the earth are never the church. They are those who are attached to the system of this world in the prophetic earth of the latter days, and who abide there. The inhabiters of the sea are the nations outside the prophetic earth. Those who thus inhabit the earth, without being righteous, have against them Satan in all his fury.22

Chapter 13

In chapter 12 we were taught, in the great sign that appears in heaven, what the sources of evil are. In chapter 13 we see the wicked instruments Satan makes use of for the fulfilment of all that iniquity and evil of which he is himself the source. The dragon imitates God, who has given all authority to His Son, and the Holy Ghost acting in His power in the presence of the Son. Thus Satan gives his power to a beast, and another beast exercises that power in his presence. One of the beasts comes from the sea, the other from the earth. We have in these instruments the full display of evil working in the earth. The first beast has also his deadly wound healed, as Christ rose from the deadly wound of death.

First beast, verses 1-10. The sea represents a mass of people without form. When there is order, when population takes a definite shape, this is the earth. The sea represents the mass of people previous to its taking a definite form; chap. 17:15. Babylon is sitting on the seas, that is, on the people, the nations, and tongues. The Hon, the leopard, the bear, in Daniel 7, are the symbols of three of the four monarchies. When God’s throne was no more at Jerusalem, God gave all power into the hands of the Gentiles. We see, to the end, four empires represented by four beasts. No mention is made here of the first three beasts, because they had already ceased at the time of the apostle.23 In the meantime, Jesus is hidden in God, and sitting at His right hand, according to Psalm no; Acts 2:30; Isaiah 9:5, 6, etc.

The Roman empire has become guilty of having rejected Him who alone had the right of dominion over the whole earth. This it is which gives a character to this beast. Nor is it all. This beast makes war with the saints that are on earth, at all times and under all circumstances, and persecutes in them the Lord Jesus. The Roman empire bears the character of the first three beasts, and combines their qualities in its body. The fourth beast shall be destroyed (Dan. 7:26), and the lordship shall be given to the Son of man by the Ancient of days; Dan. 7:11-14. This beast receives power from the dragon (chap. 13:2) and becomes Satan’s immediate instrument.

As the Father has given all power to the Son, who acts in this power through the Holy Ghost, likewise the dragon gives his power to the beast, who exercises this power through another beast.

The first beast has seven heads and ten horns. Each horn represents a kingdom. Each kingdom is crowned. All these kingdoms agree in giving their power to the beast, in whom is an active principle of blasphemy. The Roman empire is to be divided into ten kingdoms, which give their power to the beast. This has not yet taken place. The Roman empire has fallen once, and has been divided, it is true, but this does not fulfil the prophecy. There has never been the union of the beast with the ten horns. When the barbarous nations of the fourth century were brought upon the scene, they destroyed the unity of the Roman empire. The co-existence of this unity with the ten horns has never taken place. Instead of giving their power to the beast, we must consider the barbarous nations, which are looked at as the ten horns which give their power to the beast, as its destroyer. This proves to us that it would be useless to look in the time past for the fulfilment of those things which the Apocalypse reveals to us here, and as to which Daniel 7 and Revelation 17:12-14 instruct us also. The fulfilment of these things is yet to come. They are prophetical things, not historical. We may omit the consideration of five heads as already fallen at the time of the apostle. There is one head contemporary with the apostle, and another to come. One of the heads is marked by a deadly wound, but it is to be healed, or, as it were, rise again. It is in everything an imitation of what God does, and of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. All the kingdoms from the west shall unite to give their power to the Roman empire. All the earth, in admiration at the restoration of the Roman empire, shall follow after the beast. This has never happened yet. We have in Napoleon an image of this. It is like a prelude to the fulfilment of prophecy. There will be such an admiration, equal to adoration and worship, at the resurrection of this empire.

Besides what thus externally characterises it, there is (v. 5) a moral aspect, a mouth uttering blasphemies; Dan. 7:8. This dreadful time of the blasphemies of the beast shall last forty-two months. It displays its anger towards those who dwell in heaven. It is already thus in principle. If a Christian will walk as an inhabitant of heaven, the world cannot bear him. That will be still more dreadful then. A distinction must be made here between those who inhabit the earth, that is, the prophetic earth (whose hopes are upon the earth, and who are not dwelling there as pilgrims and strangers), and the nations, tribes, and tongues, by whom must be understood men in general. Those who inhabit the earth shall worship the beast, which is not said of the tongues, tribes, and nations.

The fate of those who inhabit the earth will be to worship the beast. The tongues, the kindreds, the people, and the nations, shall be under its authority; but they do not follow nor worship it; 2 Thess. 2:9-12. There is the coming of Antichrist, as there is also the coming of Christ. Strong delusion shall be sent to those who have not received the love of the truth, but who take pleasure in unrighteousness, that they should believe a he. They are those who inhabit the earth, the professing church, and not the heathen, to whom the truth never was set forth. The terms “power, wonders, miracles,” are the same which Peter uses (Acts 2:22), to shew forth unto the Jews the power of Jesus. The same things will be displayed by Satan in evil, in order to accredit evil. It is an awful thing to see the world, rejecting the truth, have strong delusion sent unto them, so that they should believe a lie, and worship the beast to whom the dragon has given his power, because they refused to worship Christ to whom God had given His power.

What we read in verse 10 is a principle for Christians. The character of the patience and of the faith of the saints is not to resist at all. This is true at all times. If any one will use the arms of the flesh, he shall be made subject to them. Whosoever draws the sword shall perish by the sword.

Second beast, verses 11-13. It rises out of the prophetic earth, out of the nations who have a form. It bears the appearance of the power of Christ; its form is, as to its horns, like unto a lamb, but what it says is the voice of Satan. It has put on the form of the lamb, as to power, and yet its doctrine is that of the dragon. The second beast exercises all the power of the first in its presence. It performs wonders, like Elias, who made fire come down from heaven. It acts so as to appear to cause the judgments of God to come down upon men.

The form of a beast is not the last form that the second beast takes. It will appear at the end as a false prophet. We have here the first manifestations of it only. The first beast here is seen as a whole; but the end of the second beast is in the latter part of chapter 19, where the beast and the false prophet are taken; in which we can recognise evidently the two beasts mentioned in chapter 13. The second beast does not always retain the character of its terrestrial and secular power. It teaches a doctrine, and, when it loses its power, it gives its influence; it falls as a beast and not as a false prophet.24 It is a person who exercises all his influence through his doctrine. He has lost his first character and his first power; no mention is made how he lost them. The power of the second beast was in his miraculous signs. The same influence is seen in the false prophet. The beast is recognised in him. It is a seducing influence, in order to deceive the inhabitants of the earth, and cause them to submit to the first beast, to the Roman empire, who is the immediate depositary of Satan’s power.

It is the end of the inhabitants of the earth. If we are Christians, we are of heaven, and not of the Roman empire. Man thinks that if he could get rid of religion, the march of intellect would be more rapid, and he would be happier. Yes, there would be more activity of mind, but not one tittle of conscience. The mouth will be filled with blasphemies. Some think that Christianity will have the upper hand. No! unbelievers will have their desire, which is the object of their expectation. Man’s faculties will produce wonderful things, but they will produce neither conscience nor happiness, nor eternal life; and man is only exalting himself to receive a more terrible blow, a more fearful judgment!

This is what is written in the word of God. Though the great whore shall be indeed destroyed (Rev. 17:16, 17), the result of her destruction will not be the conversion of those who shall have destroyed her, for the ten kings give their authority to the beast. These things must come to pass in order that the judgment of God may take place. Conscience even may throw us into Satan’s arms, if we are not kept by the power of Jesus. In order that none may escape the first beast, the second is there to deceive men and to make them believe a lie. We are told of those things that we may avoid the least details of that system of corruption which as yet has the appearance of Christianity, but which has the speech of the dragon. The image of the beast, in verse 15, is the image of the chief of the Roman empire, Antichrist.25

Verses 17, 18. I confess my ignorance as to the number six hundred and sixty-six. I cannot present you with anything satisfactory to myself. We find, answering to the number six hundred and sixty-six, the words ‘apostasy’ and ‘tradition’; but I cannot say anything positive on the point. Without saying greater spirituality might not discern it now, my impression is that it is a mark graciously given to assure the discernment of those exercised by it at the time.

May God give us to see and to mark the course which this world is running, and enable us to avoid all its influences! When one knows what will be the end of a thing, one avoids that which would lead to it. The end of Christendom is awful. God makes us acquainted with it in order that we may avoid it. The more I see what is taking place,26 the more I discover that things are hastening on, that evil may have the upper hand and be judged, that God may judge it and purify the earth. The iniquity must be full before God strikes; Gen. 15:16. We are in the last days in this respect. Men believe that there is great progress taking place, yet they feel great uneasiness in the expectation of what is going to happen. Christians must keep apart, living according to the principles of their heavenly calling.

Chapter 14

The preceding chapter gives the description and history of the great instruments of evil on the earth. This (which is the last of the three chapters, 12-14, which, taken as a whole, form, so to speak, a book) gives us the history of the ways of God on the earth, during the period of the beast up to the end of the judgments. We find ourselves here (not in heaven, as in chapter 12; not on the earth with the beast, but) on Mount Sion. God still acts in grace, not now with the view of gathering the church, but towards the remnant on the earth.

Verses 1-5. There are redeemed ones from amongst those of the earth; they are first-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. Before the harvest is completely ripe, some of the first-fruits are presented to God. We are the heavenly first-fruits of the whole creation, to be with Christ, who is Head of the creation in a heavenly manner. But God’s purpose is that there should be a bond between heaven and earth. Jesus is to unite all things in heaven and on earth. Sin has brought every thing into confusion and rent the tie. Jesus came; and He was, while on earth, a link between heaven and earth. The Holy Ghost came down upon Him. Heaven was open, because Jesus (the only one heaven could recognise) was on the earth. In John 1:51 the angels are seen descending on Him as the Son of man, which will be entirely fulfilled in the time of the glory of Jesus. Stephen saw heaven opened; but Jesus, who is the object of God’s delight, was in heaven, where man is entered in Christ, and where man can find a place with Christ. When the Jews rejected the gospel, heaven was opened that the church, full of the Holy Ghost, might contemplate the glory of God. When Jesus was on the earth, heaven looked on the earth; now that Jesus is in heaven, the church on earth looks on high. In a yet fuller revelation, as at the conversion of Paul, it is owned as one with Jesus, who is there.

Jesus has not given up His rights over the earth. The church is chosen by Him to be with Him in heaven and to share with Him His rights over the earth. Jesus is to reign and to unite the heavens and the earth. The beginning of this takes place here. The hundred forty and four thousand are on Mount Sion, and learn the song of heaven. In Sinai God required obedience from the earth. Mount Sion, on the contrary, represents kingly grace upon earth. After Israel had failed under Moses, under the judges, and under Saul, David became the king chosen of God to reign over His people. Jesus is to sit on David’s throne. David carried the ark to Mount Sion in the city of David; 2 Sam. 6:12-19. It is written in Hebrews 12:22, “But ye are come unto Mount Sion,” that is to say, not to heaven, but to the mount of royal grace [in opposition to Sinai], to the mountain where the ark of the covenant was, before the temple was built; Psalm 78:67-72. After Israel had been unfaithful, God made choice of David to feed His people. Mount Sion is the seat of that authority. The passage quoted above in the epistle to the Hebrews shews all the glory that will surround the Lord Jesus when He mounts the throne of David; and the epistle to the Hebrews tells us that we do not belong to the system of Sinai, where man fails, but to the system of grace.

John sees the Lamb on Mount Sion. We cannot enjoy God’s favour but through the Lamb; and the suffering Lamb was the true Messiah and heir of David. Heaven is raising a song of joy, because the blessing of the earth is beginning to appear. Those that are redeemed from the earth learn this song. It is a peculiar work and blessing before the general harvest. They are the ears of ripe corn, the first-fruits chosen and presented to God before the others. The hundred forty and four thousand are the only ones that can learn that song. Their ear is more quick to understand the things of heaven, and to be a link between heaven and earth.

In the Revelation “the earth” is always distinct from the world. The earth, where the light has already shone, is what is called the prophetic earth. Before God judges the nations, kindreds, people, and tongues (which are outside the earth), as well as those who inhabit the earth, there shall be given a new testimony—that of the angel who announces the judgments of God which are going to fall on the world (v. 6, 7). It is not here the gospel that gathers the church; it is the everlasting gospel. The testimony of the angel is, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” This testimony bears on the judgment of God, and is an appeal to the idolatrous nations to flee from this judgment. There is no question here of the message of salvation which God is now addressing to men by the preaching of the name of Jesus. To apply this passage to the present missions is to close the mouth of the angel who says “The hour of his judgment is come.” God, on the contrary, allows us time still to announce and to proclaim His grace towards poor sinners, and to preach the gospel to every creature. The time for this message is that of which the Holy Spirit says, “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” The gospel we have to preach gathers the church for heaven; that of the angel announces the judgment to the earth. God always sends a special testimony before the judgment. He sent Noah before the deluge; He will act in the same manner before the judgment of the earth.

Verse 8 shews us the downfall of Babylon. This is not yet the fall of the beast. Babylon is the city of corruption, where everything has become merchandise, even the souls of men. The particulars of this judgment are seen a little farther on.

Verses 9-11. A third angel announces the chastisement of the inhabitants of the earth, who worship the beast. Men must choose between the wrath of God or that of the beast. The great proof of faith at that time will be in not worshipping the beast.

Verse 12. “Here is the patience of the saints.” There are times when one can walk quietly. An entire separation from the world, then, is that in which faithfulness would consist; but peace renders this difficult, because, the respective boundaries being easily forgotten, worldliness comes in. In times of persecution faithfulness consists in bearing testimony, and in not denying the Lord, nor His testimony, in order to escape the wrath of man and of the enemy.

Verse 13. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.” The question of dying for Jesus is settled in the happiness of those who die, in their glory and their return with Christ.

Verses 14-16 shew us the harvest of the earth. The harvest includes both good and evil. It is the end of the age. It concerns here only the earth. Two shall be found in one bed; one shall be taken for judgment, the other left, as it happened at the deluge and in Sodom. The world is judged and separated from those that are faithful.

Verses 17-20. Fire always figures the judgment of God. Every one shall be salted with fire. The work of every one shall pass through the fire. The angel coming from the altar has power over the fire, over God’s judgment.

There are three things to be remarked in what Scripture says of the vine. “The house of Israel is the vine of the Lord of hosts, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant,” Isaiah 5:7. But this vine of Israel produced but sour grapes. John 15 presents to us Jesus as being Himself the vine on earth, the true vine; but He is rejected. It is because this vine is on the earth, that every branch which beareth not fruit is taken away. The question there is not concerning the elect for heaven, as such. A Jew might conform himself to the law, and yet produce no fruit. The question now is about bearing fruit. What we have in the Revelation presented to us here is a vine on earth, the form of the people of God in the earth; but each cluster is the object of the judgment and of the wrath of God. It is not a harvest in which you have to separate the good corn from the bad. There is nothing but what is bad in that vine, and there is an awful judgment of God “without the city,” near Jerusalem, and in Edom; Isaiah 63:1-6. One does not understand how this passage could be applied to the work of Jesus on the cross. He is clothed with glorious apparel. He is in all the greatness of His strength. He treads the winepress, and tramples down the people in His anger. His garments are sprinkled with their blood, not theirs with His. It is then He redeems the Jews. At the cross His arm did not save Him. The vine, the form of religion in the earth, will be the object of judgment. This contains an allusion to what took place amongst the Jews. In Leviticus 23 the feasts are presented to us in the following order:

Firstly. The Passover: Christ is our Passover. Secondly. Pentecost: the coming of the Holy Ghost has given us the reality of that feast; the Holy Ghost gathers the church as the first-fruits of creation. Thirdly. The feast of Tabernacles: this feast has not yet had its antitype. Several months of interval elapsed without feasts after Pentecost. In the seventh month which begins with the feast of trumpets, on the tenth day the people were to afflict their souls. On the fifteenth day began the feast of tabernacles, during which Israel lived in tents, in remembrance and as a testimony that Israel had been a stranger and a pilgrim in the desert—he who now was living in peace in the land of promise. The feast of tabernacles was celebrated after the harvest and the vintage were over, after the produce of the earth had been gathered. This harvest and this vintage are yet to come, and the true feast of tabernacles has not yet taken place.

To sum up things, Revelation 14 presents to us an elect people; grace acting, and a testimony rendered; the downfall of Babylon; a warning to those who shall worship the beast; the blessedness of those who die in the Lord; the harvest; and the vintage of the earth.

It is very instructive for us to see where all this leads, and what the end of it will be. All that which is of the flesh shall fall under God’s judgment. It is there that all men’s prospects and hopes end. There is also the consolation of being able to rise above these things, of seeing heaven open. The more death is our condition on earth, the more also we shall see of heaven. If the power of the Holy Ghost carries us to bear a testimony that would lead us to death, we shall be a thousand times more happy, and we shall see heaven open for us. The principles of the corruption of the earth are all in activity. Faithfulness consists in fleeing from those principles whose fruits are clusters for the vintage of the earth.

Chapters 15, 16

These two chapters contain one and the same subject: namely, the vengeance of God. The seven vials are the vials of the wrath of God. They are still things preparatory. It is the wrath of God, and not yet that of the Lamb and His judgment. Chapter 17 is an episode on Babylon. Chapter 18 is the judgment of Babylon.

Chapter 15. The things presented to us in this chapter do not form a continuation of those contained in chapter 14. We have another sign. It is the description of the last plagues by which God will consummate His wrath against the inhabitants of the earth. They are preparatory judgments, which invite men to repent, but which, after all, only provoke anger. We do not yet see the Lamb here; it is not the manifestation of Jesus in Person.

Throughout the Apocalypse, we find the faithfulness of God towards His people before the execution of His judgments. No, it is impossible one hair should be lost, even if the faithful be killed. Satan can for a while kill the body, but all his power ends there. Verses 2 and 3 set before our eyes the symbols of things very affecting. The circumstances of the scene allude to the service of the temple. The sea of glass recalls to mind the brazen sea in the temple. We have seen souls under the altar of burnt offerings. We are led here a little farther to the laver, the brazen sea, where the consecrated priests washed their feet, as Jesus washes the feet of those whom He has consecrated priests, after having been made a burnt-offering for them. This brazen sea represents purity. The sea here is filled with glass (that is, as transparent as the water was in the brazen laver) but it is solid. It is purity, but not now employed as an instrument of purification; it is firm, unalterable, on which they stand. (Compare chap. 21:18.) In our contact with the world we are always defiled. Our feet are on the earth. We are washed; but we walk on the earth that is defiled, and Jesus washes our feet. In the heavenly city we shall walk on purity itself. The whole city is purity. That is the nature of heavenly things. Those that are in the city are in contact, with the perfection of the purity of God. There is therefore no longer defilement nor purification. That is in the main what is seen in the elect (v. 2); they stood on the sea of glass. There is, moreover, the fire, because they had gone through the judgments of God. They had come out of tribulation under Antichrist. (See chap. 13:13-16). They had conquered—conquered even unto death. They had also shewn their faithfulness, and had not worshipped the beast. The faithful spoken of here form a distinct class. They are on a sea, as it were, of fire. In principle, this is the character of our tribulations. Water will not always suffice for the hardness of our hearts. Fire, chastisement, trial, become necessary; but trial would be of none effect if there were not the action of the Holy Spirit through the word. If I correct my child and he submits, the punishment ceases; if not, it continues. Therefore it is that we often see trials and chastisements continue. We must then ask and accept that the inward work be perfected, and then the trial will be removed.

In chastisements the hand of God is applied to the soul exactly according to the state in which it really is. Abraham, being more faithful than Lot, escapes the sufferings of Lot. Lot’s position was more trying. Unfaithfulness may be the occasion for God to manifest His ways, although he that is more faithful will be more blessed at all events. Faithfulness (although displayed in circumstances from which more faithfulness would have kept us) does not fail to have its reward; but it takes place in the midst of more sufferings.

Verse 3. There are two subjects for praise. We may sing the wonders of God, His works, as this was the case in Israel; or else we may sing the ways of God, as it is the case with the church. The church has not known the plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea, Sinai, as events happening to herself; these things are written for her instruction. She has the knowledge of the ways and of the thoughts of God. In the Jewish state, when under tutors and governors (Gal. 4:1-3), those things happened to them, but they were written for us; they were as children, they had need of palpable things. The Red Sea was not divided for us; but when Paul says “they were all baptised to Moses in the sea,” I understand better than Israel what the Red Sea means, and I have in the event the knowledge of the intention and of the thought of God, which is evidently a much greater favour.

The faithful sing the song of Moses and that of the Lamb— the visible power of God over the Red Sea and in Sinai; and the glory of God in the Lamb, His faith and His obedience unto death, having been made subject for a while to the power of the wicked. They sing the love of God, the ways of God, the glory of God—things manifested by His judgments, but concentrated in the cross of Jesus.27 “How marvellous are all thy works! Thy ways are ways of justice and of truth! “The saints have here these two things before their eyes: the works of God, the manifested deliverance of His people, His judgments over the wicked—this is the song of Moses; the purpose and the counsels of God towards His people—this is the song of the Lamb; Psalm 103:7. “God has made known his ways unto Moses; His acts unto the children of Israel.” Moses had seen on the mount the pattern of the things of God, the pattern of the tabernacle. The names given to God in verse 3 are those of Jehovah, a name revealed to Israel; and of Almighty, a name revealed to Abraham. It is the works of God that these names recall.

We see in verse 4 how the nations will be brought to God, namely, because His judgments will be fully manifested. Isaiah 26:9, 10 displays the same principle, a principle which is essential to the understanding of the ways of God in this respect. “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness.” This is what we have set forth to us in the gospel; but when the judgments of God are upon the earth, the inhabitants of this world will “learn righteousness.” Judgment will devour the wicked, and the earth will be instructed thereby. The effect of the gospel will not be to render the inhabitants of the earth subject to God: the gospel is to gather the church for the heavenly glory. It is because the judgments are made manifest that the nations come and prostrate themselves before God.

Verses 5-8 open to us a new scene. The seven angels are clothed in pure and white linen; it is personal holiness. They have their breasts girded with golden girdles. Gold is the emblem of the perfect righteousness, of the justice, of God. The girdle is the sign of activity in service, or of that government and of that power over ourselves which would render us fit to act, and by its very character to execute this righteousness. Christ also is girded with a golden girdle. Here, it is not grace that is in activity; it is the wrath and vengeance of God.

Jesus had said, “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19)—a position of faithfulness while the testimony lasts. There will be a time when God alone will testify of Himself, without any man’s testimony rendered to Him; it will be a testimony of vengeance, because His power and His righteousness have been despised by man.

The vials are given by the four living creatures. The smoke from the glory of God is a testimony of power and majesty; but it obscures and hinders any relations with God, and no one at that time can draw near Him. God does not appear there, either in the ark or in Christ, where He is reconciling man to Himself, and dwells in Israel. It is a time of majesty and not of grace.

In chapter 16 the vials are poured out. The prophetic earth is here the object of judgment—the earth, where God made Himself known, and where He has been rejected. The vials of His wrath are to be poured out upon the impenitent inhabitants of that earth. When God alone can render a testimony to Himself, because every other testimony has been rejected, all the world must undergo the vengeance of God.

Chapter 16. You will recollect that we have been particularly occupied with those that are on the sea of glass, who escape the judgment, and are singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. They had expressed in their song that the judgments of God were fully manifested. The angels come out of the temple for the execution of these judgments. We have distinguished between the wrath of God which falls on the earth, without Christ being manifested, and the judgment and the wrath of the Lamb manifested in person. The manifestation of the Lord Jesus and of His judgment is something quite distinct from the wrath of God; and when God has acted in His wrath, all is not over. God manifests solely His glory through the instruments He has chosen, and it is not then the time to enter into the temple. The wrath of the Lamb, which is subsequent to these events, falls on the beast, who is brought on the scene in a peculiar way after this.

Verses 1, 2. The scene is altered. Before, it was the beast who persecuted those who had not its image: now, God is acting, and smites those that had persecuted and such as had submitted themselves to the power of the beast. The sun here is only the supreme authority over the earth—that which shines on the earth and on this prophetic scene of judgments. The inhabitants of the earth had worshipped the beast and persecuted the saints and the prophets. When the vial of the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth, it strikes those who had worshipped the beast and received its mark. An allusion is here made to what took place in Egypt. A malignant and dangerous ulcer, misery and anguish reach those who would not bow down to the Lord Jesus, who preferred ease upon the earth and the lie of Satan. Thus it is that men blind themselves, and then God sends judicial blindness. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart and made fat the heart of Israel. God will do likewise to the world which calls itself Christian, and which is rejecting His warnings and despising His judgments. God gives them up to a lie, and then sends His judgments upon them. The end of the Christianised world is seen in the remaining part of the book. The more I read those passages, the more I am astonished how those who read them can do so without learning from them that all we see around us is coming to an end, and an end in condemnation. Verses 3-7. The second angel pours out his vial on the sea, on the nations which are outside the prophetic earth. The earth is the theatre where things of a moral character in the creation are resolved. Infidels have often made a comparison between the importance of this earth and that of other stars; but in this they have only shewn the folly of their wisdom. It is in man and in this earth that all moral questions of God’s justice, and of His wisdom, and of His love, are resolved. The importance of the battle does not proceed from the place where it is fought, but from the principles which it decides. Here it is that all which manifests the dominion of God and the power of evil is brought into evidence by the death and resurrection of Jesus. During the time of the Jewish dispensation, Judea is the scene of the manifestation of God’s ways; it is then called “the earth.” Now, “the earth” is Christendom, where God’s ways were also displayed. “The sea” is the mass of the nations dispersed outside this prophetic earth. There is a universal judgment upon those nations. The rivers represent people made distinct the one from the other, as under the influence of certain principles. Thus it is said, the fountain of Jacob.

The blood out of the body is death. Death is the character of the judgment which falls on those nations. Moses changed the water into blood. With regard to those mentioned here, the principle of their life and of their being before God is death. They are given death to drink. They shed the blood of the saints, of the righteous, and God gives them up to death (v. 6, 7). The voice comes out of the altar, because it is there, so to speak, that the souls that have been persecuted, and of whom God is taking vengeance, were (so to speak) offered to Him. The expression “as the blood of a dead man” gives the most awful idea of death. In the body is the blood, is the life. That which ought to sustain life becomes the expression of death. Verses 8, 9. The sun, the power which rules over the earth, becomes intolerable, and scorches men as with fire.

Verse 10. When judgment comes alone, it does not produce repentance. God has had patience with the world, and this patience has delayed the return of Jesus. The apostles had been taught by God to wait for the return of the Lord Jesus. Man finds that the Lord delays His coming; but, when the church holds this language, she begins to do her own will, and to enter into fellowship with the world. From the moment the servant says within his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming,” he beats his fellow-servants, and begins to eat and to drink with the drunken; he becomes unfaithful and worldly. It is true the Bridegroom does delay His return; nevertheless, we must wait; and those who are like men waiting for their master shall reap according to their expectation. If we give up waiting for Him, we prepare ourselves a part with the hypocrites. The waiting for Jesus was that which at the beginning detached the heart from the world, and rendered faithful. The Christian religion has made its way into the world, in consequence of this faithfulness, and of this detachment from it. If we wish to act with power over a mass of men, we must be above their range of character. The church is not to adopt the principles of men—she is to manifest God. The looking for the Lord is what distinguished the earlier Christians, and separated them from the world. Who will have the better part, those who have acted thus, or such as have said, My Lord delayeth His coming? As soon as such language is held to us, a principle is proposed which falsifies our position as Christians. And although He does in fact delay His coming, yet those who are waiting for Him are fulfilling His intention, and those who do not wait for Him shall be made ashamed.

God has patience towards the world, and waits, because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But the judgment comes sooner or later. I see evidently that men oppose the doctrine of the coming of Jesus, or at least that they would wish to persuade themselves that He is not coming so very quickly. This is the principle of the unfaithful servant, and this principle leads the Christian to mix with the world; whereas the looking for the coming of Jesus separates the Christian from the world. God has had patience. He has given warnings; and, when these judgments strike men, men blaspheme. When the will is not subdued, the heart is always made bitter through chastisements.

Verses n, 12. The fifth angel smites the seat of the beast, not the beast itself. The irritation of man’s heart against God has become excessive, and men gnaw their tongues in their frenzy. The kingdom of the beast, which had made such fine promises, is filled with anguish. It is even so now with God’s enemies, their conscience is gnawing them.

Verse 12. The sixth angel pours out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. We see evidently that the beast is not destroyed, although its empire is rendered miserable. There is an interval here, as after the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet. The river Euphrates, which is the barrier of the prophetic earth on the side of the east, is dried up. The barrier falls, and the kings from the east can enter.

Verse 13 presents to us the direct power of Satan, the dragon, the direct enemy to Jesus, the Christ; the power of the beast, the Roman empire in its state of revolt against God; the power of the false prophet. Unclean spirits proceed from them and go to the kings of the earth. All that which governs and directs in the earth will be gathered by these three unclean spirits. It is not then Christianity that will embrace the world by its influence; on the contrary, it is the diabolical influences which gather the inhabitants and the powers of the earth. It is very evident that unclean spirits are not the gospel; and there is not a greater illusion than to believe that the Christian religion will extend to, and embrace, the world. It is undoubtedly through judgments that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (not the knowledge of His grace) shall cover the earth; Hab. 2:14. It is easy for men to say, We shall fill: but this is not said. It is written “For the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” This does not mean that the gospel is not to be preached. If I believe that the judgment will come quickly and fall on Christendom, this will urge me to bear testimony according to the mind of God, and not according to the illusions of men. See the judgment that is coming, and seek with all your might to draw sinners away from the wrath to come. When we see infidelity more and more openly manifested, and a testimony designed to rescue men from the ways of wickedness, it is a proof that judgment is drawing nigh. If three thousand souls were converted in one day, it was because Jerusalem was going to be given up.

Verse 15 contains another warning. I do not know anything satisfactory as to the word Armageddon mentioned in verse 16. Compare Judges 5:19 and 2 Kings 23:29; but the first passage rather. We see from verse 17 to verse 21 the great upsetting and confusion of the nations. All that which seems strongest and most elevated (mountains) is overthrown. A direct judgment from God falls upon man. All the foundations of the earth, as a system half moral and half civil, are thrown down. What a blessing for the Christian to have assured peace, to know that, having kept the word of the patience of Christ, he shall also be kept from the hour of temptation; and the more the storm is raging outside, the more there is calm and tranquillity in the house of God! We have on our side the immutability of the throne itself, from whence proceed these judgments, and these judgments do not touch us. This is the joy of the child of God. The peace of God keeps him in the midst of the awful time coming on the world.

Chapter 17

We have now entered on the scenes of the last judgments, which God is to fulfil in order to introduce the glory of Jesus. The seven vials have accomplished the wrath of God. The Spirit of prophecy gives with more detail the two forms of evil developed at the end—Babylon and the beast. Things are more simple and more easy to understand than at the beginning of the Apocalypse. When evil becomes openly manifest, the thing is more evident; for the winding up of the scene of this world interests more particularly the church.

Verse i. In speaking of heavenly things, one speaks of things that are not yet as though they were, for God has foreseen and judged everything. Heaven is familiar with evil as judged, as with that which is good to enjoy it. God has taken notice of everything beforehand; and all is found on the path to His glory. The angel is familiarly acquainted with all that relates to the great whore. To us this is not clear and must be explained. All that happens to us is foreknown and pre-arranged of God, in order that His child may stand in the midst of difficulties. All I have to do is to say—God is perfectly acquainted with the position I am in, and He knows the way He has prepared to extricate me out of difficulties if I remain faithful. In all things present your requests to God, knowing that He cares for you. John could not so much as even imagine such a thing as this great whore; she has the double character of corruption and influence over the nations.

Two things are contained in this chapter: Babylon and the beast; corruption and the power of evil in violence. Man’s will manifests itself in two ways—corruption and violence: this was the world’s state at the time of the deluge. Satan is a liar and a murderer. The Lord Jesus is the truth and the life, instead of being a liar and a violent man. Antichrist does his own will. Jesus does the will of Him that sent Him. Here is corruption, violence, self-will, and murder. Babylon is corruption in all its depth; and the beast is self-will, revolting even against God Himself. These two principles, which have been from the beginning, are embodied, and act.

Verse 2. The kings of the earth are the powers where light has shined, the powers of the last prophetical scene of monarchies. Verse 3. Babylon is centre of commerce, of riches, the capital of the vanities of the world, the mother of idolatries; but as to the Spirit of God, it is a desert (v. 3). He finds nothing in the world that can satisfy the holy desires of a renewed heart. What the flesh or the natural man loves, the Spirit hates. What is desirable to the natural heart is only a desert and corruption to the Spirit.

The beast, having seven heads and ten horns, is the Roman empire. The woman is here seated on the beast, and rules it. This is the relationship between the moral corruption of this world and the civil powers. Later these relations are changed. In the Old Testament Babylon poisons the nations. Here also she is the centre to which the nations are attracted, the centre of the corruption, the luxury, and the glory of this world. It is also the centre of religious idolatry; Dan. 3.28 This system of corruption at the beginning rides the beast, and rules it. The kings of the earth find it profitable for themselves to sustain this relationship with the woman; corruption governs.

The names of blasphemy are varied characters of self-will and of rebellion in the beast which opposes God.

Verse 5. We see in Babylon the spring of all corruption. She is the cause that all the relationships that ought to subsist with God, are sustained with the world. She leads men to abandon the true God; they may give themselves up to idols.

Verse 6. The secular power puts the saints actually to death; but it is Babylon who is guilty. She is drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus. As it was once Jerusalem that was guilty of the blood of prophets, so it is now in Babylon that the blood of the saints is to be found. It is here we find the principle of that religion which is connected with the world, and has its resources there. It is the most hateful thing in the sight of God.

Verse 7. John is marvelling that that which had the form of godliness and the name of religion should be guilty of the blood of the martyrs. It must have been no less amazing to a Jew that God should require of Jerusalem the blood of the prophets. In the sight of God one generation inherits of the preceding generations all the iniquity which they have completed. Their conscience ought to be warned by this iniquity. “Ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers,” says the Lord. If Christians are not entirely separated from Babylon, they inherit the iniquity of the preceding times, because they join themselves with it, their conscience not gathering any instruction from it. When man has exhausted one principle, God presents him with another to work upon his conscience: and, if he rejects it, he is so much the more guilty. In Abel nature is violated; afterwards, the traditional knowledge of God; Rom. 1:18-23. Afterwards it is the law; and then it is Jesus Himself who comes to put the heart to the proof. When the knowledge of the Father and of the Son is introduced, the Jews then seek to shew their faithfulness to God by killing those who introduce this knowledge. Man glories in a truth that costs him nothing inasmuch as it is generally received, and takes advantage of it to oppose the admission of more light which would demand faith. The Jews insist on the unity of God. in order to deny the Son. When we appeal to a truth that was blessed to us at one time, in order to refuse another sent now, it is rejecting the means by which God will act now. It was the bigoted Jews, not the heathen, that opposed themselves most to the introduction of Christianity.

Sincerity alone will not do. The new light must be admitted. They will kill you, “because they have not known the Father nor me,” John 17:3. Thus it is that the most precious light becomes the instrument of evil in the hands of infidelity. This principle is very important for those who are acting in the kingdom of God. From verse 8 the angel leaves the woman, to give us the history of the beast.

The contents of verse 8 had already been announced in a less clear manner before. When the Roman empire is spoken of, it is said that it exists no more. Here we find this difficulty foreseen, pointed out, and explained. Here is the key to the enigma, with the certainty that He who gave it invented the enigma also.

The Roman empire is to come out of the bottomless pit, from the region of darkness, and act with power for evil. It is a very serious matter to see at the end the power, which has dominion over the earth, come up out of the bottomless pit itself. The inhabitants of the earth shall marvel at this kind of resurrection of the Roman empire, and then it is that the world shall follow after the beast; chap. 13:3. It will be seduced when the beast shall have taken the character of the resurrection of the Roman empire destroyed centuries ago.

Verses 9, 10. There is a certain likeness between the woman and the beast. A woman, a city built on the perfection of power, on seven mountains, represents the centre of corruption. The beast has seven heads also. The heads are kings, or powers of government. Five are fallen—five kings, or five forms of government. The particular facts which have accomplished parts of this are of little importance. History is not necessary in order to understand prophecy. It is even oftentimes an obstacle, because what is often important to man is not so to God, for God has Christ in view.

Although history fulfils prophecy, yet it never explains it; whereas prophecy explains history. The faithful are called to believe in the prophecy before it is fulfilled. The way to understand the word is to have the mind of God, and to apprehend His purposes with respect to Christ. At the time of the apostle five kings had already fallen. The sixth was there. A seventh was to come for a short time.

Verse n. The eighth head of the beast is the beast itself, the whole power of the beast concentrated in the person of the chief. It is the Roman empire brought to life again through Satan, with a diabolic character, but which shall be destroyed. There will be a restoration hereafter of the Roman empire, and this restored empire shall be destroyed by the power of God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the man of sin is called the son of perdition.

Verse 12. The ten horns have their power the same time with the beast. The kingdoms that arose out of the destruction of the Roman empire through the barbarians were not the prophetic horns. The trouble men have taken on this subject has been to no purpose. The barbarian kings destroyed the Roman empire instead of exercising their power at the same time with it. There will be a kind of confederation of kings with a centre, that is, a head exercising power in the midst of them.

Verse 14. These kings will make war with the Lamb; but the Lamb, who is the King of kings, shall overcome them. The church shall accompany Him. The called, the elect, and the faithful, these are they who shall be with Him.

Verse 16. The horns.29 They shall hate the whore, and shall eat her flesh, and make her desolate and naked. They are tired of her, and cannot endure her any longer. Man thinks that, if he could get rid of this outward and corrupted form of Christianity, he would be blessed. It is the contrary. When the ten kings have made the whore desolate and naked, they give their kingdom to the beast. The kings of the earth will not give their power to Christ: quite the contrary; they will give it to the beast, and will make war with the Lamb. It is inconceivable how those who read the word of God can entertain the thought that the kings of the earth shall give their power to the Lamb. If one could succeed in destroying the whore, there would be no other result than to make war with the Lamb. It is important the church of God should not be deceived in this respect. God is warning us, in order that we may escape the way that leads to perdition.

This chapter is divided into three essential parts: the woman, who becomes the centre of corruption, and who exercises her influence over the mass of people; the beast, which has ascended out of the bottomless pit; the ten kings, who30 persecute the woman, give their power to the beast, and fall in making war with the Lamb.

A distinction is to be made between the expressions the woman and the whore. That Rome has been the centre, this I do not doubt. The woman is the city; but the whore embraces a whole system of corruption that has varied forms, and of which the spirit of worldliness, long covered over under the form of religion, is the over-ruling principle. In this chapter the whore is more particularly shewn to us under her religious form.31 Her flesh is eaten, and she is no more seated on the beast, because the kings give their power to the beast, and the beast itself rules.

It is important to avoid these principles and forms that lead to perdition. The chosen, the called, and the faithful are with the Lamb when He destroys the beast and the kings. This is exceedingly precious, and separates from the spirit of this world. A heathen is not in Babylon. He cannot be there. A Christian may be found there. Whatever connects the world with religion is the principle of Babylon. The spirit of Babylon, the spirit of worldliness, is very slippery ground. Therefore it is that we are warned of God. May God keep us!

Chapter 18

We have seen that at all times there is lying and violence, Babylon and the beast. Satan was from the beginning a liar and a murderer. From the beginning of chapter 17 to chapter 19:10 we see the contrast between Babylon and the New Jerusalem. In order to shew us the judgment of the whore, the Spirit has presented to us, in chapter 17, the woman and the beast in their relations one with the other. Here, in chapter 18, Babylon is shewn to us standing alone, that the judgment on her may be revealed.

The great principle seen in Babylon is worldliness, but worldliness as a position of captivity for the people of God, in connection with the prostitution of man’s natural affections. In the Old Testament fornication is applied to trade, not to trade with an eye to provide for wants, but to the spirit of trade to make a gain of it. Tyre is a proof of this. Idolatry was, properly speaking, the sin of adultery32 for Jerusalem, because the Eternal was her husband. In the church it is called prostitution, because the marriage of the Lamb has not yet taken place; but there is more moral connection than one thinks, because the heart is at a distance from God, and conscience likewise, by the allurement of gain and covetous-ness, which is idolatry; Eph. 5:5 (see also Phil. 3:13-20). The most abominable form of worldliness is that of those who call themselves Christians, separated unto God by the blood of the Lamb, and are living in worldliness, after the principles of the world who rejected the Lord Jesus. We are speaking of moral analogies. We have already seen how idolatry characterises Babylon, the abominations meaning idolatry.

The Revelation is almost entirely borrowed from the Old Testament; so that we derive much light from the Old Testament for the understanding the book of Revelation. Babylon is the enemy of Jerusalem. Israel came out from Egypt. Egypt is the world in its natural state; this is not so with Babylon.33 Babylon was, from the beginning, the spirit of worldliness, presenting the allurements of this world to the heart come out of Egypt. It was a goodly Babylonish garment which attracted the heart of Achan; Josh. 7:21. When the king of Babylon sent unto Hezekiah, because he had heard that he had been sick and was recovered (2 Kings 20:12; Isaiah 39:1), Hezekiah shewed all that was found in his treasures to the men that the king of Babylon had sent him. But Isaiah said unto him, “All that which thy fathers have laid up in store shall be carried to Babylon.” As soon as the church will extol herself before the world through things pertaining to it, she will, as is besides always the case, fall under the influence and under the power of the world. Later Babylon is presented in her power, and the people of Israel captive under it. There is the idolatry, the golden statue, and all kinds of riches. Babylon is the centre of idolatry, and of the power of the world. She fell by the power of Cyrus, and the people of God were delivered to a certain extent. Such are, in the Old Testament, the features of Babylon. Babylon is the power of this world, which makes a traffic of everything of the world, which has been exalted because of the iniquity of the people of God, and where the people of God have been found in captivity. When the church becomes worldly, the world has always the advantage over her.

What we find in Revelation 18 is not Babylon in her glory, but in her downfall. It is the judgment of Babylon; v. 2, 3. She has for a season enjoyed the pleasures of the earth. After her downfall she becomes a habitation of demons; and, at the same time, it is said to the people of God (v. 4), “Come out of her, my people.” Israel has been, through the judgment of God, captive in Babylon. When Babylon fell, Israel came out of her. If I discern Babylon, I am called to come out of her. Verse 8. The people of God are called upon to reward her, even as she rewarded them, and to double unto her double according to her works. And the church in heaven is called to rejoice over her, because the Lord God has judged her (v. 20).

Why does the Spirit of God enumerate all these articles of luxury and commerce? (v. 11-13). It is in order to describe unto us what is the occupation of the children of Babylon. All was merchandise to her. She was the centre of all those things which the inhabitants of the earth enjoy. And if the bodies and the souls of men could help in any way to this enjoyment, they also would be made a traffic of. All is made then a matter of gain, of pleasure, and of commerce of this world. This spirit is seen already, although all these details are not yet visible. To traffic and to become rich, there is the spring of all the actual politics of the world; and if the traffic of souls can serve to that end, it matters not, provided the aim be attained to make much gain and to embellish this world, of which Satan is the prince. The more facilities increase to satiate this thirst after gain and luxury, the more the souls of men will be devoured with the lust after them. The world must be everything, and the prince of this world must rule without obstacle, and everything must yield to this. Nothing is more melancholy than to see that everything is to be made a matter of selling and of buying, that this is the end of everything in this world, and that everything yields when the question is a matter of gain. This annihilation of all principle through the spirit of gain leaves an open field to the ascendancy Satan has over the hearts of men to enslave them under his dominion. It is to be feared that the hearts of Christians may be carried away by these principles; for the principles of the world take possession, to a certain point, of Christian hearts. They glory even in them.

There was not only positive hatred and murder in Cain’s heart, but also the character of the prince of this world. He built a city and embellished the world; Gen. 4:16. Satan rules over the hearts of men through these means, and thus becomes the prince of this world through means of all the pleasures of life, which the world calls innocent pleasures. They say, Why, what harm is there in riches, in music, in drawing, and in so many other things? Why, that Satan, by their means, rules the world and enslaves the hearts of men for eternity. This is the character of Babylon. It is an abominable thing when a Christian can put up with Babylon’s principles, and conform his taste to them.

This corruption and this system of pleasure are especially evil for us, inasmuch as all these things are done when man, having been driven from the presence of God, and gone out from before the face of the Lord, has done his best in arranging the world, in forming a polite society, in cultivating arts, and creating pleasures, etc. God has presented to the world His own Son as Heir of all things, and the world has rejected Him. But the Father receives the rejected Son, and the world is found in direct opposition to God. After having killed his brother, and being cast out of the presence of God, Cain embellishes the world. The world had already been sinning against God; but, like Cain, it added to this the murder of Him who, in grace became man. Jesus is not of the world, but of the Father. “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee,” John 17:25. What characterises the disciples is, that they follow the Son to heaven, are heavenly-minded, and not of the world. “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world,” 1 John 2:16. The Father is opposed to the world, the Son to Satan, the Spirit to the flesh. So far as the Christian enters into the ways of the world, it is a complete prostitution. When the world is in the place of the church and holds the church in captivity, the full character of Babylon is then unfolded, although she was already Babylon before she did it and in order to do it. Whatever makes the world happy in spite of God is in the spirit and course of Babylon, and for the Christian to be there is to be in Babylon. The world may get rich without our having anything to do with it; but when a goodly Babylonish garment is found in the tent of Achan, then the whole camp is corrupted, and God judges it. When friendly associations begin to take place between Babylon and the people of God, it is an indication that all Hezekiah’s riches are going to be transported there. When Hezekiah is rich enough to make a display of his treasures, the principles of the world are working in him, and judgment begins already. When Babylon becomes guilty of carrying Israel away captive, the people of God are already without power.

Verse 4. The misfortune of the people of God is to have any part in the sin of Babylon; and the only way to avoid having any part in it is to come out—to come out of her, not to be made partaker of her sins, and so not to receive of her plagues in consequence. We come out of her because of her sins and not to be partakers in them, not because her plagues have arrived. It is evident that true Christians, the church, have become worldly. God has had long patience. Babylon falls when Belshazzar is boasting, not merely of having the people of God captive, but also of having prevailed over God. When Babylon fell, the people of God were there; this is what will take place again, though the rapture of the church is to take place first.

The spirit of worldliness opposes itself to the testimony of God, and is guilty of the death of those who have borne testimony to Jesus. The more religion there is in the world, the more obstinately it is set on putting to death those who bear testimony to Jesus. When Nebuchadnezzar made the golden statue, he threw the Hebrews into the furnace. When Jesus Christ is preached, it is the Jews who go from one city to another urging the heathen to persecute the Christians. It is they who pursue to that end the apostles from town to town. That which least bears the light of God is what assumes to be the religion of God without being so. If Jesus be the Son of God in heaven, what have the Jews done? Babylon is the spirit of worldliness cast out far away from God, as guilty of the death of Christ, and which nevertheless gives itself up to embellish the world. Thus the Christ, as the light, is extinguished by the spirit of worldliness. Babylon slays the prophets and the saints. Not being the true God, and there being no possibility of her being of Him (otherwise she would no more be Babylon), she makes use of idolatry, enforcing it as a means to establish unity: that is what Nebuchadnezzar did. Such are the great principles of Babylon; and those who do not act from consceience must undergo the yoke of this prosperous worldliness, which traffics even in the souls of men. The testimony remains with us that the world is not of the Father, that Christ is not of the world, and that the world will be judged (v. 8).

Until the judgment of God falls upon the world the world will prosper more and more. This is not yet fully accomplished. But we are warned that we may flee from all those Babylonish principles by which society is embellishing and arranging itself without God, and which leads it even to make a merchandise of conscience.

May God keep our hearts from being made partakers of her sins, that we may not also receive of her plagues! All those Babylonish principles, all that your eyes may lust after for your drawing-rooms and for your pleasures, all those things separate you from heaven. All that is of the world which rejected Christ. Would you perhaps like to be of Babylon on a small scale? As the Spirit is opposed to the flesh, the Son to Satan, so is the Father likewise to the world. It is the power of heavenly affections which takes away the desire after these carnal things.

There are still in Babylon other principles which I have not yet brought under notice. Genesis 10 and n give us the enumeration of all the families of the earth, and their divisions. We find therein two great principles which characterise the natural energy of the human heart in doing its own will, viz., the spirit of despotism, and the spirit of association. Nimrod, the first example of individual supremacy, begins to be mighty in the earth; Gen. 10:8. Nebuchadnezzar, the first chief among the four monarches, exercises by a strong will dominion over his fellow men. On the other hand man does not like to be governed, and he associates himself with others in order to make himself entirely independent of God. Associated with others, he thinks himself capable of everything. “Union,” he says, “is strength.” And this is true until God intervenes. Men associate together to make themselves a name upon earth; that is the spirit of association. But, when God had scattered men, Nimrod took possession of all they had done. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel; Gen. 10:10. God recognises (Gen. 11:6) the power of the principle of association; but this is the proper principle of Babylon. Man will associate, and, by his own will united to that of others, get some reputation. This spirit of union has no other object than man’s glory.

For the church there is true unity— “one Spirit and one body.” This unity has the Holy Spirit as the power of life, and Christ as the centre of all. Christianity alone could give great force to individuality and to conscience, and at the same time unite men under the direction of Christ towards one centre, which is Christ. This could only be possible by the Holy Spirit, which takes away selfishness, while it gives power to the conscience; giving, by faith, an object to the heart outside of itself—an object which acts on the individual conscience, and unites us all through one predominant affection to one centre of affection, by one life, and one only power of the Spirit.

The unity of Babylon is of quite another nature. It tends to the glory of man, who desires to gather men around one system, which the wisdom and the prudence of man have invented. Babylon will always have a chief. After God had scattered Babel, one man took into his own possession all those scattered wills, united them under his own will, and made them obey. Under the two forms of association and of despotism, it is man who will make himself a name. Conscience is not exercised; there is neither root nor fruit. Conscience does not admit of anything between God and itself. All that man can do, as an instrument, is to put the conscience or the heart in relationship with God. During a long period the spirit of this false Babylonish unity has been outwardly religious; it is none the less for all that the spirit of Babylon.

The spirit of association is very powerful in these times. Commercial association governs everything, and a desire for union is everywhere proclaimed. Man will succeed in a wonderful manner; but all this will only end in the confusion of the will of man, and in his submission to Antichrist, as the last chief. The remedy to all this is conscience. The Holy Spirit acts as the spirit of union in the children of God: but conscience cannot be in society and reject its own individual responsibility. It is individual: otherwise God could not be the Master of conscience. The Holy Spirit directs it towards Jesus. If we will avoid the principles of evil, it must be through conscience; there is no other way. Through it we are rendered wise concerning that which is good and simple concerning evil. The Christian who acts from conscience will avoid a thousand snares of which he is not at all aware.

This Babylon, of which we have seen the glory, will be the object of the judgment of God. When this takes place, every enemy will not yet be destroyed. The eighth head of the beast still remains. God still exercises the patience of His children. Babylon is a harlot, not an adulteress. Israel was an adulteress, when unfaithful; but the church corrupted is a harlot, because the marriage of the Lamb has not yet taken place. Jehovah was the Husband of Israel. His presence was there, and earthly blessings flowed from it. However, man’s folly threw him into idolatry. The bride of the Lamb is not yet formed in its heavenly completeness. The assembling of the universality of the church is not yet completed, neither is it yet risen. The church has still to be in a waiting posture. And as it is not agreeable to wait without possessing, the church would have, like Judaism, some enjoyments in the earth. But the more there is of the Spirit, the more on the contrary there will be suffering, and the more we shall be put in front of the battle. The church, having ceased to look for the return of the Bridegroom, would have pleasure and enjoyment in the world, and has corrupted herself. It is because the system of earthly blessing has failed in Israel that the church has been introduced. The church has only the earnest of her future possessions. Hers is a waiting position. Satan has confounded all this, and has lowered the thought of devotedness in the church. In the beginning no one said that what he had belonged to him. Later one sees, through the epistles, warnings given to the rich; 1 Tim. 6:17-19. Afterwards the church would be rich. The wise virgins slumbered. Satan came in, and the prince of this world has become a prince in the church, even her true members being almost all lost in the corruption. And it is in this corrupted church that Satan is found, and that souls of men even have been sold. At last the kings will not have anything more to do with the harlot.

The beast itself having put away the harlot, and she herself being destroyed, the beast will itself make war with the Lamb. It is the Roman empire brought to life again, the eighth head of the beast, which makes war openly with the Lamb. It is no more simply corruption; it is violence. Isaiah 14:12-17 shews us the king of Babylon taking all the titles and the characters of Christ. He would seat himself on the mount of the congregation (at Jerusalem) in the palace of the great king on the sides of the north. He claims all that belongs to Jesus, and assumes to be made like Jesus. He will raise his throne above the stars, ascend above the clouds, be like the Most High. This is a recapitulation of the titles of Jesus, and the boldest form of the pride of the earth. In one sense it is a blessing that this happens, because then God must judge it and destroy it. But the church must before this be united to Jesus, in order to enter into this glory; and we are introduced to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Chapter 19:1-9

Glory belongs to God and to the Lamb. If the church is looking for its advantages on the earth, it falls into Babylon. Jesus wills that she should have the glory that belongs to Him, and that she should with Him wait until He enters into His glory to enjoy it with Him. If she is looking for an earthly glory, she becomes unfaithful to her heavenly Bridegroom; and this is the greatest unfaithfulness. We ought not to have any of the things which the price of this world gives, but receive the heavenly things from the hand of God, and expect them from Himself. The church ought to be on the earth the manifestation of that thorough detachment from the earth. She ought to be entirely independent of everything else, and in absolute dependence on God. This is the trial and proof of faith—to refuse the possession of things before God gives them. It was the sin of Saul to have sacrificed before Samuel had come. It is infinitely better to wait for the enjoyment of everything with Christ. “All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s,” 1 Cor. 3:22, 23. And if this link is broken, the relationship between God and the creature is broken also. The church must wait for the epoch of her glory, until the judgment of God be executed. Satan always tries to deceive the church in this respect. He even endeavours to unite Christians in a spirit of human association to arrive at a spiritual millennium which is not promised, and which would exalt man and the means he has in his hand. Nothing will make the bride happy but the presence of the Bridegroom. On the other hand, God will not exercise His power in the government of the world without Christ. Those who endeavour to produce a spiritual millennium want to use the resources of men. And as they must have money, they rest on what man can give. It is a Babel, notwithstanding the excellence of the intentions; and Christians who expect the blessing before the judgment always rest on the energy of man.

Verses 3, 4. The church praises the Lord because of the judgment of Babylon. The Lamb is not yet manifested. God judges corruption. The Lamb judges the beast, because it rises up against the King of kings. Verses 5, 6. God begins to take possession of His kingdom. When God acts as king, He executes judgment. If He were now acting as a king, every soul here would be cut off; but now He is acting in patience and in grace during the priesthood of Jesus.

Verse 7 is the expression of our joy. It is impossible that Christ can take possession of His kingdom before the church has made herself ready, and is manifested in the glory, and, that having been through resurrection, introduced into the glory for the marriage of the Lamb. Jesus will have us united to Him in the glory. When Christ shall manifest His glory, He wills that the world which has despised us should know that we are loved even as Christ Himself was loved. The marriage of the Lamb will be to us the manifestation of that love. Babylon being judged, the Lord celebrates the marriage-supper of the Lamb. We see the contrast between Babylon, the glory of the world, and the church of God, which has suffered with Christ, which has been persecuted in the world, but which is now glorified with Jesus. We see here the entirely heavenly character of the church.

The sufferings of the church are absolutely necessary to her. As soon as she ceases to suffer, she begins to lose her true character, and her testimony in the world ceases. Awakenings have always been accompanied with difficulties and persecutions, because Satan is not yet bound. A man who cannot use arms to defend himself must suffer. It is also very trying to live with persons around us without having one thought in common with them; and the more the natural affections are alive the more the heart will suffer. The Holy Spirit quickens sensibility; but He gives strength to bear the suffering. At the same time, sensibility being more tender, it is wounded on every side without meeting with any sympathy. God tries Christians thus in order to manifest Christ in them. He cannot alter this until He has executed the judgment. As long as the heart yields itself to the testimony God sends, it is yet the time during which God will leave His children in suffering. The power of the Holy Spirit is not of the world: it enters into the world; but it cannot accustom itself to the world, neither find there its contentment. If we consider the mission of the Holy Spirit, the position of the Bridegroom in heaven, all concurs to decide us to suffer with Christ and for His name.

Is it anything extraordinary that the Holy Spirit should attach us to heaven, and detach us from the earth? Jesus had the taste of heaven in everything He did, and the world cannot bear this. Whatever binds the church to the world loosens her from Christ. Jesus cannot recognise anything in the world, for there is nothing in the world that has not, according to its power, contributed to reject Him. It is impossible for a wife to attach herself to two husbands. It is not only forbidden, but it is quite impossible. As a bride, the church belongs to Christ; and we are dead to everything except to Christ risen. Christ for the church can only be a heavenly Bridegroom. As a temporal and Jewish Saviour of Israel, Jesus forbids His disciples to go into the way of the Gentiles; He was a Jew and He could only acknowledge those that were Jews: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matt. 15:24. The church, in order to have a Christ, must have a risen Christ. The world having rejected Christ, Christ owns no fellowship with the world. The cross has put an ever-lasting barrier between the world, as such, and Jesus. “The world seeth me no more” (John 14:19), except as a Judge. Jesus saves a soul in separating it from the world, and communicates to that soul a life capable of enjoying the world to come where Jesus is glorified and loved.

The testimony rendered to Jesus can only operate in taking a soul morally out of the world, and in causing it to enter into the church. Could one have a risen Bridegroom in heaven, and an earthly bride in the earth? This is not possible. Having the life of Christ in a body that is still of the world, the Christians suffers, and sees himself fettered by this body of death. It is Christ alone, Christ risen, Christ glorified, who is the Bridegroom of the church; and a church of the world, a religion of the world, is impossible. To secure the church Christ must die; and the church cannot possess a living Christ, unless He be a risen Christ. We suffer here, because we have a risen soul in a body that is not risen, and this is in a world at enmity with God. To wish to prepare a church here on earth for the coming of Christ is to understand neither Christ nor the church. It is when the Lord God Almighty has taken to Him great power to reign, when the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride hath made herself ready, that the church knows joy. To say that Jehovah reigns now, is, in one sense, a sort of blasphemy. God does not exercise His power in direct government. Do you think that He permits sin to prosper, infidelity to lift up a high head, and that He allows that war should exercise its depredations under His own government? Does not all this prove that Satan is the prince of this world? The Lord only enters upon the exercise of His kingly power down here when the downfall of Babylon takes place.

To apply the Psalms to the present time, when they say, “The Lord reigneth,” is to produce confusion. These Psalms express righteous judgment, and the desire to wash one’s feet in the blood of the enemies. What connection is there in this with the spirit of the Christian? This relates to a dispensation of judgment and of righteousness, and not of grace. Grace is acting now to draw the heart, and to make it cleave to heavenly things. In the reign of Christ God will reign in righteousness; and the Spirit of Christ in the Psalms calls for justice in the time of His reign. The principles of the relations of God with men are quite different. The reign of Christ will be for the earth a time of joy; but that joy will proceed from the presence of righteousness acting upon the earth; Psalms 96, 97, 98, 99. When Jehovah takes to Him His power and reigns, He will execute justice and judgment in the earth. Do you believe that if He were actually exercising judgment, things would go on in the earth as they do now? The Lord is acting in grace now, and when He executes justice, the wicked will be cut off, and the righteous will then be able to live in peace, for he will be sustained and filled with joy. When Christians have chosen to sing the Psalms as belonging to the church, the relationship of Jehovah with Israel and those of the Father with the church have been confounded, and the church is thrown into darkness and worldliness. When all this is confounded, Jehovah is not found just, and the Father does not sanctify His people. In the Revelation we do not find the relationship of the Father with the church. So long as the church is on earth, God has not assumed the power of His kingdom.

In verse 7 the primary object of the love of God is to unite the church to Christ. This must take place in order that Christ may appear in glory and judge the beast. The church is not yet the wife—she is only betrothed to Christ. The Holy Spirit can never produce the glory of the church, nor celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb, because He cannot be the Bridegroom of the church. And to wish for the joy of the millennium through the Holy Spirit only, is to wish for the joy of the bride without the Bridegroom, which is a folly. There must be the personal manifestation of Jesus. The church must be risen to be with her risen Spouse.

What is actually the effect of testimony in the world? It is to raise persecution according to the power of the Holy Spirit which is put forth. If one would have it otherwise, the Lord must reign and execute justice. To wish for a millennium by the Holy Spirit is also to wish for the most violent persecution. The more the Holy Spirit acts, the hotter the persecution is.

In paradise, when God builded the woman, He presented her to Adam: this is what will happen concerning the church; Eph. 5:27. The love of Jesus for the church is something much more intimate, much higher, than the love of God for the world. He has given His fife for her; He washes her by His word; He will present her to Himself glorious with the same glory that He is Himself in as risen and glorified. This will be the marriage-supper of the Lamb. The church is the bride united to Jesus in glory. She is justified, purified, and glorified. A bride in a vile body is not fit for a Bridegroom in a glorious body.

The Almighty taking to Him His power and reigning is still a thing to come. God only reigns now through His hidden providence. In His kingdom all shall be set in order; but He cannot make the earth and the creation happy, before that which is most precious to Christ be there for the enjoyment of it with Him. The first thing necessary to the full accomplishment of the counsels of the Father and of the love of Jesus is the resurrection of the church, and the marriage of the Lamb. Our portion is to be with Christ, and to have the enjoyment with Him of all that He inherits, and of all that He enjoys. The principle of faithfulness in the church is not to recognise nor to take anything before her heavenly Bridegroom comes. She is to live as a virgin, waiting for the return of Him to whom she is betrothed, and to keep herself in His absence from all that is unworthy of Him.

Chapter 19:11-21

In the marriage of the Lamb we see what Christ is to the church; in the judgment of the beast, what Christ is as a Judge. The violence which rises against the power of the Lamb is the object of judgment. Before this there must be the glory of Jesus with the church, and the marriage of the Lamb.

“All was created by him and for him,” Col. 1:16. Everything was created for His glory; but men of the world do not think of this. Every knee shall bow before Him; He is the centre of all the thoughts and of the justice of God. Jesus made Himself of no reputation; Jesus shall be glorified. Man makes use of the humiliation of Jesus in order to despise Him; but God shall glorify Him even there where He made Himself of no reputation, and in that very form which He took, and He shall glorify Him through those for whom He did thus make Himself of no reputation.

To philosophy God is only a means man uses to extol himself; but God has been pleased to bring low the wisdom and the intelligence of man by saving, through the foolishness of preaching, all those who believe. There where the Son of man has been humbled He shall be glorified; and man must bow the knee before the Last Adam. God will have the Lord Jesus as the Lord of glory; and He will be glorified in Jesus, in rendering men submissive to Jesus as Lord. Jesus must be recognised such as God has presented Him, according to the foolishness of preaching, or one must recognise Him, without hope of mercy, when His glory shall be manifested. If one will not have a Saviour, one must have a Judge. There is no one that will not have to bow the knee to Jesus. If one does not do it now, it is ingratitude and baseness.

The second thought of God in His counsels is the church. As He associated Eve with Adam, so He has associated the church with Christ. We have spoken of the marriage of the Lamb, and of the church risen and glorified, united to Christ risen and glorified. It is a thing quite different from the good-will of God towards His creatures. It is an intimate relationship between the children and the Father, between the bride and the Bridegroom. The church is reckoned as being not of the world but of heaven. Her origin is from above. Besides this there are the relations of God with the world— the government of God. Man will not have Christ to govern the world; he wishes to govern it himself and exclude God out of it: “This is the heir [not the Bridegroom], come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance,” Matt. 21:38.

As long as it is the accepted time, the time of salvation, man gives himself up to iniquity without restraint. He will have his own way in spite of God, and be like God. In this sense every man has the spirit of Antichrist, whom the Holy Spirit characterises by these words, “And the king shall do according to his will,” Dan. 11:36. This cannot last. Man must at last be judged of Him whom he has rejected. Is heaven to govern the earth? Yes; but man says, It is I who shall govern the world, and not God.

On four different occasions God has spoken solemnly, or will, with man. God spoke with man for the first time in the garden of Eden. All relation with God had already ceased then, for man never spoke with God that he was not already condemned before God had spoken to him. The second time was on Mount Sinai. Israel, in dismay, said, “Let not God speak with us” (Ex. 20:19), for the glory of God had inspired terror in the heart of man. The third time was in Jesus, God manifested in the flesh. Man would not have God in love: hence, it became necessary to be either a Christian or an anti-Christian. The fourth time is when Jesus will come again to execute the judgment on all those who will not bow to Him as Lord. Man will be found either for Him or against Him. All those who have not received the love of the truth will be condemned.

Christ and the church appear in glory, and only in judgment. Heaven opens for their glorious manifestation. Man being a sinner, heaven cannot open itself to him. When Jesus was on the earth, heaven opened itself; Jesus was recognised as Son of God, and the Holy Ghost came down upon Him. Through the Holy Spirit Stephen sees heaven open; Acts 7:35. But the case is reversed. He looks into heaven and finds his portion there with Jesus, being, as He was, rejected from the earth, but identified with the glory of God. This also is the position of the whole church. At the end heaven will be opened to manifest the Son of man; and when it opens thus, it is that the Lord Jesus should come Himself and execute judgment on earth. Only when the evil forces God to notice it, does God smite it: until iniquity has come to the full (Gen. 15:16), God has long patience.

The last beast, the Roman empire revived, comes up out of the bottomless pit and goes to perdition. This is what we have brought before us. Men’s passions will be inspired and excited by Satan, “whose coming,” we read, “is after the working of Satan,” 2 Thess. 2:9. Judas is an example of this. We do not only see in him covetousness, and the temptation of Satan presented to covetousness; but Satan taking possession of the heart, and hardening all the natural affections of a disciple towards Jesus. At that time also Satan shall harden the hearts of those of whom he shall have taken possession, even against the manifestation of all the glory of Jesus. Some natural feelings are found remaining, until Satan has taken possession of the heart; but after this man is capable of doing anything. Thus the chief priests would have killed Lazarus (John 12:10), because Jesus had raised him to life again, and because of this many of the Jews believed in Jesus, and left them; and they determined to put Jesus to death, because He had raised Lazarus from the dead; John 11:47-57.

The man of the earth lifts his head even up to heaven. Like Adam, he wishes to be as God Himself: he wishes to be so under the character of Christ, and he is Antichrist. He wants to possess the earth and make war with heaven; Isaiah 14:13, 14. Endowed with all the power of Satan, all man’s faculties in exercise, inspired by Satan’s energy, he assumes authority over all, and would seat himself at Jerusalem as king of all the earth, and extol himself like unto the Most High. It is then that the Son of man, who has humbled Himself, and whom God has exalted, shall come down from heaven, and the man of the earth who has exalted himself shall be abased. The question is now, and this is all the question, Whether the man of the earth is to prevail over the Man of heaven. The last beast, having seized upon the earth, and being followed by the kings of the earth, makes war with Christ. We must know whether God will be the stronger, not only in the conscience, but in the world and in glory. Jerusalem is already becoming the centre of man’s thoughts in the earth, because it is there the nations are to be gathered for judgment; Zech. 12:1-3. The nations appear to be beginning to burden themselves with Jerusalem. They do so without acknowledging the rights of Christ, who is alone the true King of Jerusalem; but God shall make good the claims of Christ. The nations are labouring in the fire for very vanity (Isaiah 50:11), in order that He that has been despised may be glorified.

Verses 12, 13. Jesus appears. He has His essential glory, a name known to Him alone. All He does is the manifestation of what God has revealed. He will be the Word of God in judgment, and the executor of the revelation of God against sin. Now, the word is judging morally; then, it will be in reality. The white horse is a sign of victory. The sharp sword is already seen; Rev. 1:16.

Verse 15 is in allusion to Psalm 2:8, 9: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This is what Jesus shall execute at His glorious appearing. To break the nations with a rod of iron is quite another thing from the gospel. He has the nations, not as His bride, but as His inheritance. The little stone (Dan. 2:34, 35) becomes a great mountain, filling the whole earth. The church (Rev. 2:26, 27) is made a partaker with Him in His power over the nations. Jesus has received power of His Father, not merely to secure the church, but also to break the nations, and the church shall be with Jesus. Jesus has not yet asked for the inheritance; but is praying that His own may be kept. He is the sovereign High Priest, not of the world, but of the church. We have a High Priest; Heb. 4:14, 15; chap. 8:1. The rebellious Jews shall be judged. The judgment of the world is by Jesus—such is the use of the rod of iron which He wields.

It is important to see the distinction between the inheritance of the nation, and the position of the church. In Isaiah 63:1-6 Christ is revealed to us treading alone the winepress of His wrath. The blood (Rev. 14:18-20) came out even unto the horse-bridles. It is thus that this awful judgment of God is depicted unto us.

Verse 16 informs us that Jesus does not take His title of King of kings before the kingdom of the world, on the sound of the seventh trumpet being heard, becomes the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ. When political attention is attracted to Jerusalem, when things are preparing rapidly for the judgment of Christ in the earth, when this judgment is going to be executed, it is just then that the nations reject Christ and harden themselves against Him. Jesus shall appear as the Faithful, the True, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, being already the Bridegroom of the church glorified.

It is after this that the judgment of the beast will take place. This beast34 is the wicked one announced to the Thessalonians, the Antichrist of Daniel. The false prophet is here found identified with the second beast. The distinction between the church glorified and the world judged is very evident in the chapter before us. Antichrist extols himself, and Christ comes only to judge him. The things which God will separate in judgment are already separated in His mind, and they are as much so now as when they will be seen, the one in the lake of fire, and the other in heaven. The judgment shall merely manifest this to the world. There are three characters of the beast and of Satan’s power.

Firstly, the Roman empire in its eighth head, the chief of the last form of the beast at the time of the Gentiles. Secondly. This chief does his own will, and will establish his throne at Jerusalem. Thirdly. He is the wicked one; iniquity has reached to the full. The false prophet is the second beast in chapter 13, which had horns like the lamb and spoke like the dragon. Babylon has disappeared from the scene.

Verse 17. The supper of the great God is a very strong figure of the destruction of kings, captains, powers, of horses and their riders, of freemen, slaves, of small and great, and of all those, in short, whose bodies are given to the birds of prey. The angel, standing in the sun, acts in the power and supreme authority of God, in judgment against him who stands in opposition to God. Daniel 7:7, 8 shews to us the fourth beast, the fourth monarchy, as a blasphemous power, which God judges and totally destroys. The description of this destruction is given to us in the Revelation.

Daniel 7:17, 18. The saints of the Most High not only take the place of authority, instead of the beast which uttered great things against God, but also that of the four beasts. In verse 21 the horn which uttered great things makes war with the saints. But, if God permits the beast to overcome the saints, it is until Christ, the Ancient of days, comes, until judgment be given to the saints of the Most High, and until they obtain the kingdom. What puts an end to the authority of the beast is the coming of the Ancient of days, and not the preaching of the gospel. This is the character of the beast and its end.

In the Revelation and in Daniel there are ten kingdoms.35 The beast has a mortal wound, but comes out of the bottomless pit. The ten kings give their power to it, and the dragon his throne; but it goes into perdition. The kings associate themselves with it, and this satanical power, which at all times has overcome the saints, and which has been set up again, goes to perdition. It is the apostasy and antagonism of power against God. The eighth head is the beast. All its power is concentrated in the head, in the chief of the Roman empire. This is not yet manifested. Antichrist, who is the chief of the iniquity of the human heart, fills up the measure of the rebellion of the Gentiles, to whom God had entrusted power when He removed His throne from Jerusalem, at the time of the Babylonish captivity. Instead of glorifying God in His kingdom, man rejects Jesus, and in the end is found making war against Jesus,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In verse 3 Antichrist is the son of perdition. He goes to perdition. Antichrist, the wicked one, has brought the iniquity of man to its height. To have sinned against God, violated the law, and rejected Jesus, although nothing morally was wanting to the sin of man—all this was not yet the height of iniquity. The mystery of iniquity is that evil which acts in a hidden manner in the bosom of the church, as a germ destined to grow until the revolt—a revolt which will pursue its course till it rises up openly against Christ manifested in glory. While men were slumbering, the enemy has sown the tares. The mystery of iniquity, which had already begun at the time of the apostle, ends in the revolt of Christianity, the professing church. God does not judge what is only yet in a state of mystery. The mystery is that which is known only by its revelation, and without this it remains hidden to all human intelligence. It is the same also with the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, and with the mystery of the union of Christ and the church. What a mystery of iniquity it is, that the church should have been made the nest where Satan has begun and brought forth the fulness of the iniquity of man! Jude wished to write of the salvation common to them, but he could not. The evil had begun, and he urges them to contend earnestly for what they had. The evil had begun. He warns them, “for certain men have crept in among you unawares, who have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness,” and who end in denying the Lord Jesus. Those were the same of whom Enoch had prophesied. It is to deny the Saviour recognised according to the testimony given by the Holy Ghost, and to revolt against Him:36 this will be the fulness of iniquity; after that comes the judgment.

To the Thessalonians Paul explains the progress of the mystery of iniquity, until that which is now an obstacle to it be taken away. When this is taken out of the way, then shall the wicked by revealed. He is the representative of the iniquity, and he will be manifested when that which restrains iniquity shall be taken away. His character is to be without law, to do his own will, man’s will. The word rendered by “the wicked one” signifies “he that is without law.” Christ, the Man of God, says, “Lo, I come, O God, to do thy will,” Psalm 40:7, 8; Heb. 10. He has been a servant in everything. He gives the kingdom to those for whom the Father has prepared it. His only will was to do the will of God. “Not my will, but thy will.” “By the obedience of one many are made righteous,” Rom. 5:19. He has not in anything done His own will.

What characterises this age, and what this age is boasting of, is the right of doing its own will. It is also what characterised the sin of Adam, before evil concupiscences came into the world. The character of Christ, the elect King of God, is obedience. “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,” John 14:31. Jesus was obedient unto death. The power of God was thus acting in Him, to render Him, notwithstanding the difficulties, so obedient as to make Himself of no reputation in the sight of God, and to do all things for God. The character of the wicked is to be without law, to do his own will. Then comes the contest between the Man of God and the man of the earth, to know who is to succeed. The principle of evil is to have a will. For a long time God restrains and confines the evil. When He takes away that which now letteth, then shall the wicked, who does his own will, manifest and exalt himself even against the manifestation of the glory, as he did exalt himself in the mystery of iniquity; so now against the manifestation of grace, as well as when Jesus was here below. There is no independence for man; he must be either subject to God, or subject to Satan. He alone is independent who can secure himself from death. God permits Satan to act with efficacy. They would do their own will. They will work signs, wonders, and miracles of falsehood. The wicked one will be the expression of the iniquity of man without restraint, who will have no law. He will put himself under the influence and bondage of. Satan, who will give him all his power. It is in its full power the principle of the first Adam, but with a decided will, knowing it and wishing it, and acting after the thoughts and according to the power which Satan inspires him with. The question is, Who is to succeed, the Man of God, or the man of the earth who will do his own will?

Daniel 11:36, 45, shews to us that Antichrist, the king, shall do according to his will. As king, he will reign over the Jews at Jerusalem. He shall exalt and magnify himself above every god; he shall speak marvellous things, and shall prosper till the indignation against the Jews be accomplished. He will be king at Jerusalem, the chief or the head37 of the beast; in him iniquity has come to its full. Afterwards, he is destroyed. This is the end of the times of the Gentiles. The beast and the false prophet are, before all the others, thrown into the lake of fire and of brimstone. It is, at least as to them, the judgment of the living. The beast, as Antichrist,38 denies the Father and the Son; 1 John 2:22. He denies Jesus Christ come in the flesh, and he denies that Jesus is the Messiah. It will be through this last means that he will attach to himself the infidel Jews. He denies Christ come in the flesh, and he gives himself for the Christ [i.e., presents himself as Messiah].

The false prophet (v. 20) is the second beast of chapter 13:12. He has the form of the power of Christ, and the voice of Satan. He performs prodigies. (Compare chap. 19:20 with chap. 13:12-14.) These passages shew the identity of the second beast with the false prophet.

This character of the beast is that of an empire. In losing its character of beast, it ceases to be a secular power, and becomes a power only through its doctrine. It exercises the power of the beast, and causes it to be adored. It is judged as a false prophet. We see in this false Christianity,39 which, after having lost its worldly and terrestrial dominion, has retained the power of its doctrinal influence. The temporal power of popery (or rather of hierarchy, including the pope) is, to a certain extent, destroyed; but it subsists as false prophet, and it always is more evidently this and with more influence.

Chapter 20:1-6

We have seen the judgment of Babylon by God, and that of the beast and of the false prophet by Jesus. We find now the judgment falling on Satan,40 the spring, the power, and the strength of all this iniquity. The heart of man was the soil in which all this was sown. Satan, nevertheless, was the author of it.

Verses 1-3. The fact that Satan shall be bound is of the greatest importance to the world. One can hardly form an idea of the difference it will produce as to the world; we have very little idea of the corruption, the subtlety, and wickedness of the heart of man, and of the power of Satan. One of the principal characters of the dispensation to come is that Satan is bound. That is quite a new thing for the world. As wicked and the seducer, Satan is the serpent; as having power, he is the dragon; as adversary, he has the name of Satan; as accuser, that of the devil. Satan, in causing Adam to fall in sin, had taken away all the creation from him, and thereby from God. Adam, as the image of Him that was to come, had the possession of all the earth. Satan seduced him. Adam and Eve fell, and with them the creation. This link being broken, the whole falls: all is ruined in its head, and separated from God; and Satan figures as prince of the world. God intervenes in many ways; among others, by the deluge; the world, notwithstanding, plunges into idolatry, and by this falls more than ever under Satan’s power.

In the word, no mention is made of idolatry before the deluge. Man, as man, has adored Satan, and in many places is still adoring him. The philosophers of antiquity adored him themselves, no less than the pagans of our days. God has proved in His wisdom that man by wisdom did not know God; and this is where man’s wisdom has led him. In order to destroy idolatry God separated to Himself a nation, manifested His glory to it, spoke to it, and made Himself known to it. Nevertheless, before Moses had come down again from the mount, Israel had already made the golden calf, and had thus put themselves under Satan’s power, in spite of the barrier that God had raised around His people.41 God sent afterwards His own Son, the Last Adam, although not yet manifested as such. Christ is, in fact, the Last Adam, and the Father of the spiritual race, only after His resurrection; as Adam, on the other hand, became the father of the fallen race after his fall. Satan addresses himself also to Jesus, led into the desert by the Spirit, to tempt Him as he tempted Adam, but in vain. Jesus, having bound the strong man, casts out the demons, shewing thereby what power Satan was exercising in those that were possessed. In order to shew that it is not the iniquity of man that is called the demons, the legion enter the swine, and act in those animals. The demons ask that they may not be sent into the bottomless pit,42 the time for them to be sent there not having come yet. Seeing that he could do nothing more to seduce Him or to destroy the effect of His power, Satan raises the whole world against Him. And as Jesus had made Himself surety for our sin, Satan, who has the power of death, uses this right of death against Jesus43 made sin for us. All that man was had been ruined and was under the power of death. It is in the resurrection of Jesus that the victory is found again, and the proof of the judgment of the prince of this world.

In the meanwhile, the time for the execution of the judgment had not yet come, and Satan is still dwelling in the heavenly places (not in the heaven, which God inhabits in light inaccessible, but in the created heavens). The death of Jesus has not expelled him thence. Nevertheless, when, in the name of Jesus, the disciples cast the demons out of creation, Jesus says, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” He foresees the downfall of Satan by the power of the name of Jesus. Actually, Satan acts still in the creation, as we see in the case of Job. Jesus is now absent—in heaven. Not being bound, Satan tries and tempts man, and man falls. He is busy about the church; he sows tares there, and spoils the work of God upon earth. He cannot spoil it in heaven.

We see, in this recapitulation of what Satan accomplishes upon the earth, how he spoils everything until he is bound. God, it is true, watches over the faithful; nevertheless, Satan is in the world, and spoils there the work of God; and if our salvation were resting on man’s own responsibility, there would be no salvation for us. Men of the world can form no idea of the manner Satan is blinding the heart. Before God gives them up to it as a chastisement, Satan is already using his power in blinding men, and in making them fall into error. From the beginning to the period to which this chapter of Revelation brings us, all that God has done upon the earth, in the world, and in the church, has been spoiled through Satan. Satan has influence in the world; he blinds the heathen and the christianised world. Alas! he also blinds God’s children as to their inheritance and as to the coming of the Lord Jesus. Satan endeavours to rob the church of this truth, and to make her say “My Lord delayeth his coming.” He will not have it that one should believe his dominion is going to be overthrown; but at the same time, truth is professed and maintained even by unconverted persons, and subsists as given of God amongst men. But now in the time of judgment this will be no more so; God gives men up to an efficacious error that they may believe a lie.

We have seen in chapter 12 Satan cast out from heaven. He will never enter there again. He falls upon the earth, and causes Antichrist to revolt against Christ. Then Christ comes down from heaven, destroys the beast and the false prophet, and binds Satan himself. All that Satan did to the first Adam disappears. Creation ceases to be under his dominion, and man, delivered from Satan’s power, passes under that of Jesus. Evil may remain in man’s heart, but Satan is banished from the scene of this world. The Judge, the Last Adam, comes down from heaven in the power of the victory He has already gained in the resurrection. This is not yet the state of eternity. These are things manifested on the earth, where Jesus shall reign after having bound Satan and delivered the creation from the bondage of corruption.

Why not bind Satan immediately? Because the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; Rom. 8:19. Christ cannot manifest Himself in the glory and in the judgment, nor deliver the world without having delivered and raised the church, nor before the judgment be given to the church as well as to Christ. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2; Dan. 7:22). “Until the Ancient of days comes, and judgment be given to the saints of the Most High.” Therefore it is that creation is not yet delivered from the yoke of corruption. The church risen must judge the world with Christ. The world to come is also to be subjected to the same trial. This does not take place during the continuance of the thousand years of Christ’s reign—only at the end of that reign, when Satan comes up out of the bottomless pit. Then, as always, man fails immediately.

While Satan is bound there is no seduction, and, consequently, no combat, no suffering, no victory. God permits these things to take place now, that we may have the glory. The most ordinary precepts of the gospel suppose the superiority of the enemy as to this world, and command not to resist evil; they suppose, therefore, a state of suffering. If the world were really Christian, these precepts would not be applicable, because there would be nothing to suffer.

Verses 4-6. There are thrones. Daniel says (chapter 7:9), “I beheld till the thrones were cast down” (or rather placed). Daniel only sees the thrones; here we see there are those seated on the thrones. Now, there is suffering; then, we shall reign with Christ, and we shall be on Jesus’ throne; Rev. 3:21. “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them,” John 17:22. The world will see this glory, and will know that we have been loved as Christ has been loved. When Christ shall sit upon the throne of His glory, we shall be seated on thrones. This mediatorial kingdom, in which Christ is seated on His throne, will at the end be given up to God the Father; 1 Cor. 15:24. The beheaded are those who have suffered for their testimony during the course of the events which we have seen in the Revelation. Besides those who are seated upon thrones, and those who were beheaded, we perceive here a third class, that of those who have not received the mark of the beast—negative faithfulness, it is true, but which is not forgotten. These three classes (those that are seated on thrones, those that were beheaded, and those who have not received the mark of the beast) have equally part in the first resurrection, which takes place a thousand years before the resurrection of the dead who are dead in their sins.

There have been those who have wished to make of the first resurrection a resurrection of principles; but the triumph of principles, mine or those of others, cannot be a personal reward for having been beheaded for those principles. To use a figure of language, one might strictly say that principles are reigning; but how could one say that they shall be priests? Those that rise reign a thousand years with Christ and shall be made kings and priests; and this cannot be applied in any way to principles, but only to the persons of the risen saints.

We see then here Satan bound, Jesus reigning over the earth, and the faithful reigning with Jesus Himself. It is necessary to understand well that Satan spoils all the work of God in the earth. The death of Jesus banishes Satan from the conscience indeed, but does not banish him from heaven. The power of Christ destroys the power of Satan; but this power will never be so much manifested as in the person of Antichrist. We have to contend until Satan be cast out from heaven.

Chapter 20:5, 6

From verses 4-10 we have the whole of the thousand years. It is the reign of Christ with His saints, who govern, and Satan is bound. The whole state of the world depends on these two things, the reign of Christ, and the prison of Satan.

Now, on the contrary, Christ is hidden, and Satan is acting unbound. The reign spoken of here is so distinct and so positive, that those who are in heaven say “And we shall reign on the earth,”44 Rev. 5:10. Their power is from heaven; they shall reign over the earth according to that power. The glory of Jesus is the object of the counsels of God. Everything in the word and in the ways of God is directed towards that end; without this we cannot get the intelligence of the word. Christ is the great object of God. God would have that His whole being should be evidently manifested, and this manifestation is seen in Jesus.45 No one has seen God; the Son has revealed Him to us. God manifested in the flesh has made Himself known to us. God is only “seen of angels” through the manifestation of God in the Person of Christ. The knowledge of God in Jesus gives intelligence to the most simple Christian. God did manifest Himself to man as He is, and placed Himself at his level. The simple can apprehend and understand God. He hides these things from the wise and prudent. Jesus is the object and the thought of all the counsels of God.

This glory, which God has given to Christ, God has manifested in Jesus as man. Already, in the creation, the divine glory of the Son has been manifested, and His right of possessing all things established. Jesus created everything. He has title over creation, which can only be blessed under Him, and during His reign. God has willed that everything should be made subject to man. Adam was the head of the creation; he failed, and all failed in him and with him. Satan having gained the victory over Adam, all has fallen under the dominion of Satan, who fills the world with evil, and rules over it through the passions of men.

The question is not merely about salvation in God’s counsels, but of the restoration of all things. God re-establishes everything, and man too, in introducing into the world Jesus, the Last Adam. The sons of men are not forsaken in this. God unites the church with the Last Adam. All the creation fell in the person of the first Adam, and it is the Last who becomes the object of the counsels of God. God does not restore the first Adam; He introduces a second, the spring of life to all those who are redeemed. The word was made flesh. God became a man, in order that all things might be made subject to man, and this man is Jesus;46 Heb. 2; Psalm 8; 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1. The Man Jesus is set over everything.

The first Adam and the Last Adam cannot subsist together. It is impossible that Christ and Satan can be both at the same time the princes of this world. Christ is not yet seated on His throne; He is on His Father’s throne; Rev. 3:21. Now, it is the presence of the Spirit of Christ within, that renders the heart faithful. In order that Christ may reign as the Last Adam, Satan must be bound.

The question is not to know whether Christ’s reign is a spiritual or a personal reign; for the Holy Ghost does not leave us, and therefore the reign is spiritual as well as personal. But to say that Christ will not be there is to deny the reign of Christ. The Holy Ghost has not been made man, and He is not the Bridegroom of the church, and the church desires the Bridegroom. The Spirit and the bride say “Come.” The Spirit does not say this to Himself; He says it to Christ. A reign of Christ without Christ is a reign without a king. It is limiting the church to the desire of what she has already, that is, the Holy Ghost. It is to confound everything in the relations of Christ as King of the earth and as Bridegroom of the church.

Acts 3:19-21. That of which the prophets spoke is the glory at the end, the restoration of all things. The heaven must receive Jesus (not the Holy Ghost, who had already come down), until the times of the restitution of all things, and until the times of refreshing. It is Christ who, as Man, is to reign. God has willed to subject all things to man (not to Christ, who does not come, but) to Christ, who shall be sent from heaven, and who is now preached. It must be the man Jesus manifested in glory. Jesus is moreover invested with the judgment. He judges, because He is the Son of man; John 5:27. The Holy Ghost is not the Son of man. Besides, the judgment precedes the millennium, and cannot be conceived before a millennium brought by the Holy Ghost, and by the preaching of the gospel.

The promises made to the Last Adam, the hopes of the Bridegroom, the judgment, all is personal to the Son of man. Jesus is coming in Person. All this is connected with the glory of Christ. One cannot be in the truth if one rambles from the Person of the Son of man. The Holy Ghost acts but to magnify and glorify the Lord Jesus.

The reign of a thousand years is a reward. Men may say sometimes, that they are principles which shall reign, that it is a question about a resurrection of principles. But it is written “they shall reign” (Rev. 5:10; 20:6); and I cannot thus confound principles and persons. If we suffer, we shall reign. We are not principles. When we suffer, is it in order that the principles may reign? It would be a singular reward for me when I suffer to say that it is in order that my principles may reign a thousand years.

The apostle speaks of the first resurrection, as if all knew that there are two resurrections. In the word of God, two resurrections are always spoken of, and never one general resurrection, of which one finds neither the expression nor the idea. God does not thus confound the just and the unjust: and nothing will separate them more than the resurrection. Now, they are mixed and confounded in the world; but the resurrection shall separate them. There is a resurrection from amongst the dead; therefore, there are some dead that do not rise in that resurrection, whereas others do rise.

How can principles be priests? It is nonsense. Those who will reign will be priests. He has loved us, and has washed us, and made us kings and priests. One can neither wash principles nor make them priests. If the Person of the Lord Jesus and the persons of the saints be taken away from the glory, the root of every affection is cut off, and one has a millennium without Christ and without affection.

The first and the second resurrection manifest the glory of Christ in two very different ways. The church glorifies the Lord in being with Him and serving Him. Jesus shall be glorified in the judgment of the wicked, who shall acknowledge, in spite of themselves, that He is Lord. And for this reason, the resurrection of the just completes their life and their glory. The power of the life of Christ is applied to their bodies, whereas the resurrection of the wicked is a resurrection of judgment, and not of life. The resurrection of life does not in any wise belong to the wicked. He “shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you,” Rom. 8:11. The life of Christ and the Spirit of Christ are not in the wicked; therefore, the cause of the resurrection of the just is not in the wicked. By the resurrection the just are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ; John 5:25. In Luke 14:14 the Lord Jesus says “These shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” If all rise together, one could not hold such language, nor that of Jesus in Luke 20:35, where He speaks of those who shall be counted worthy to obtain “that age, and the resurrection of the dead “; for if all rise together, some cannot be distinctively counted worthy of the resurrection. Thus far as to the resurrection of the just: the resurrection of the wicked is for the judgment. It is not contemporary with that of the just. In order that the just may reign, they must be risen. They shall bear the image of the heavenly. “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John 3:2.

We read in 1 Corinthians 15:23, “But every one in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterwards, they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The thought of a general resurrection is traditional, and comes from having lost sight of the perfect salvation of the church. Those who have believed are already justified, and have part in the resurrection of the just, which accomplishes their glory and their happiness. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and those that are alive shall be changed; 1 Thess. 4:13-17. There is an infinite happiness in the thought that we shall be conformed to the image of Jesus, and that we shall have the same portion with Him. If we were not kept of God, even the sight of the glory of Christ could not prevent us from falling into the hands of Satan. May this encourage us and keep us humble!

Chapter 20:7-15

Verses 7, 8 contain a very important and humiliating principle. It is impossible, in whatever position man may be, that he should not fall if he is left to himself, and if he has not communicated to him from God a life of which the grace of God is the strength. Jesus manifested in glory does not change the heart. This change is a work of grace. As soon as those even who have seen the glory are no more kept from temptation by the power of God Himself, where they are subjected to temptation, they fall and Satan makes them at once his slaves. Satan, being loosed, comes up out of the bottomless pit, upon the earth, not into heaven, where he re-enters no more. When at last banished from the earth, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are since the beginning of the millennium, and shall never come out of it. This is a proof that the judgment of the wicked [dead] does not take place at the coming of Christ. When the great white throne is there, the earth flees away; and this is not the return of Jesus.

In the present dispensation, God visits the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name; Acts 15:14. Satan is opposed to this people in whom the Holy Ghost dwells, and who have the foretaste of the glory and the joy that belong to the people of God. The consequence is, that they are a separate people, who fail in rendering testimony if they enter, however little, into the ways of the world. Already, in Abraham, God takes out of the world a people to Himself, whom He leaves in the world. Israel was, as a nation, separated from the world. An Israelite could not espouse a Gentile. This separation was according to the flesh, not the result of faith.

In the church, it is individual faith which causes this separation. All the precepts of the gospel suppose a state of persecution; Matt. 5:38-48; 20:16. Everything supposes opposition; Luke 14:25-32. If there were a Christian world, the precepts of the gospel would not have any application.

During the thousand years, on the contrary, Jesus shall be the Prince of this world, of which Satan is now the prince. Now, all those who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; 2 Tim. 3:12. We are called to suffer; and if the world were really christianised, we should be called to run with the tide instead of contending against it.

When Satan shall be bound, all that will be changed, and this opposition of the world will cease. The Lord Jesus shall reign in righteousness; there will be no temptation, and the mass of people will be really governed by Him. If this took place in the present dispensation, all the precepts of the gospel would become useless and out of place. Under the reign of Christ, the church, which has already suffered, will be seen glorified, and the world blessed, without Satan’s temptations, living in peace and under the government of the Son of man. It does not follow that every soul on earth shall be converted.

If the reign of a thousand years were a spiritual millennium, it would not be possible that Satan could be loosed to seduce all those who would have the life of Christ in them. Instead of that, it is a government without temptations; and when Satan is loosed, he carries man away with him in spite of the sight of the glory of Jesus; and this is the final trial which displays how impossible it is for God to trust in the creature; John 2:24. We are called to trust the faithfulness of God, because we have learned that God cannot trust us.

It would be extraordinary in a dispensation for man not to be subject to trial and temptation in the ways of God. Those of the millennium are to be tempted like others. The consequence of it is the same—man falls. Even the presence of Christ does not prevent it; and the heart is so irremediably wicked and evil, that in the presence of Jesus it will yield to its passions and lusts, and please himself instead of pleasing Jesus. Innocent man fell—still more does he when he is no more innocent.

During the manifestation of the glory of Christ, the revolt cannot be hidden. Man may see the glory of Christ, be convinced of it, and oppose himself to it! Lazarus being risen, the Jews wish to put him to death with Jesus, because of the testimony rendered to the power of Christ. If the heart of man is not converted, renewed, and kept of God, it is capable of anything. Verses 9, 10. They will make war with the saints and with the city beloved of God.

At that time the whole world shall be the sphere of the judgments of the prophecy. With the Jews the promises and the ways of God are circumscribed in the land of Canaan, which is simply also called the earth. Later this sphere extends itself, and the four monarchies, then Christendom, become the prophetic earth. Jesus shall reign over the whole inhabited earth, and prophecy shall then extend over all its surface. If, when Christ is manifested in glory, the world oppose the people of God, it is not surprising that the same thing should happen now that Christ is hidden. To think otherwise is to be in illusion.

To understand the glory of Christ in the church, the church must be separate from the world. When the church is mixed up with the world, this only spoils the church and Christians. The world never draws towards Christians, and it cannot do so, for its own nature cannot allow it; but Christians may to their own loss draw near the world, because the old man is still in them.

Verse 10. The beast and the false prophet are in the lake burning with fire and brimstone since the judgment of the earth. Satan is not there. He reigns in a public-house, in balls, in the opera, in the theatre, in concerts, etc., and he rules in the hearts of men by presenting to them things pleasant to their lusts. When Satan shall be in the lake burning with fire, he will not reign there; he will be there as the most miserable being. At the beginning of the millennium the beast and the false prophet will be thrown there alive. Satan is only bound in the bottomless pit, from whence he shall come out again to tempt men.

As long as Satan is in heaven, he is the prince of this world. There are idolaters, a Babylon, and that secret influence which deceives the heart of man, so as to make him look at a piece of wood as a god. These are the effects of the deceits of the enemy. What has become of the greatest part of the human race? They are plunged in idolatry. Civilisation does not draw man out of it; the people of antiquity, whose civilisation has been transmitted to us, did not through it come out of idolatry; and the most enlightened men submit themselves to things which their own reason rejects, because they are under the influence of Satan. When Satan has come out of the bottomless pit, he can no more exercise this influence, because he cannot go up into heaven again and give himself out for a god before men. He can only excite them to open revolt.

Verses 11-15. Satan being set aside, here is the judgment of the dead. The judgment of the great white throne only applies to the dead. Then it is that the resurrection of judgment takes place; the resurrection of life is for those only who shall reign. The effect of judgment is that “in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” Psalm 143:2. It is only those who have the life of Christ in themselves that will escape from the lake burning with fire and brimstone. To be judged according to our own works is to be condemned.

One thing that will prove that the question here is not concerning the coming of Christ is, that the place of the great white throne is not mentioned; whereas Acts 1:11 announces the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth, and Zechariah 14:4 shews Him to us on the Mount of Olives. It is from that mountain that He was taken up from the midst of His disciples, and it is on that mountain that He will again set His feet. It is not at all the great white throne. When this appears, heaven and earth flee away from before His face. This is not the coming again on the earth. The dead appear before Him. For the judgment of the living He must come again where the living are to be found. In the other case, it is all over with the heaven and present earth.

Chapter 21:1-8

An event of all gravity is here mentioned: Jesus gives up the kingdom to the Father; 1 Cor. 15:24. He has taken the kingdom as a man. He who became a man and made Himself of no reputation has been highly exalted. The question is about His humanity, not about His divinity, properly speaking.

Jesus, as a man, intercedes now for us; as a man He shall reign also. This is infinitely precious to us. Jesus is not an unknown God, but a man sitting at the right hand of God. As a man He shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, which as a man He received; 1 Cor. 15:22-28. As a man the Son shall be subject to God and shall no more reign, although as God He shall reign eternally. There is no more intercession when all the saints are happy, nor any government when all the wicked have disappeared and God shall be all in all.

Justice shall not reign then; it shall dwell; 2 Pet. 3. Perfection will not exist until God has made all things new. There is here no distinction made of a people of God amongst men. “The tabernacle of God is with men.” All is peace. God is all in all. All those who remain after the judgment are blessed together. But we have to consider whether what is called the church now shall not also be a special blessing, whether it will not be the tabernacle of God amongst men. (See Eph. 3:21.)

Jesus is here the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of the counsels of God. He is God Himself. When all shall be accomplished and made subject to God, then there shall be an eternal blessing. Since the fall of Adam until this day it is the manifestation of the grace and of the patience of God.

We have in one sense come to the end of the book of the Revelation. Here it is that events of the prophecy are closed. What follows is a description of the holy Jerusalem, of the joy of the saints during the thousand years, and of the relations of the heavenly Jerusalem with the earth. Everything is centred in Christ. The smallest, the meanest, of those who attach themselves to Christ, who love Christ, shall shine in the glory of Christ, and that one shall be found wise even by the wicked who despise him now. May God render us faithful to the glory of Christ, while the world is despising this glory, and we shall be made partakers of it when it shall be manifested!

Chapters 21:9-27; 22:1-5

In comparing verse 9 with chapter 17:1, you will find this likeness, that it is one of the seven angels who have the seven vials that gives the description of Babylon, and that it is one of them also who describes the bride of the Lamb, the holy city, with the whole of the prophecy from verse 9. The historical unfolding of the mediatorial service of the Lamb is already contained in this book.

What is found in chapters 21:9-27 and 22:1-5 does not form a continuation, either historical or prophetic, of what precedes. It is a description of the holy Jerusalem, and there are many circumstances which precede what is in the beginning of the chapter. The angel, in the same manner, describes Babylon after having given her history.

Verses 9-13. It is in heaven, in the glory only, that the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is spoken of in the accomplishment of God’s ways concerning her.47 The present dispensation is only the assembling the living stones of this city, the assembling of the saints, the church. Through the resurrection, we shall all be placed without sound (see i Kings 6:7) in the glory prepared for us. This is the bride of the Lamb, not of the King, as in the Old Testament. The church has part in the sufferings, as well as in the glory of Christ; and to her Jesus is the Lamb, and not the King; the manifestation of the heavenly, and not of the earthly, righteousness of God (for in the last case Christ ought not to have died). This heavenly righteousness is hidden in God, unknown to the world, but known of faith. Before the world, the death of Christ is the greatest injustice of man. The Lamb is also the manifestation of the patience and of the goodness of God. But, as to the accomplishment of righteousness with regard to His death, no true estimate could be made of its value, except in heaven. No reward on earth could have been worthy of what Jesus has suffered. The manner in which Jesus glorified the Father could not be worthily recompensed but in placing the Son at the right hand of the Father. To suffer for having done well, and to submit to all—this is the part of a Christian. It is better to keep Christ’s character than one’s cloak. The church has part in all this. She has the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ and of His resurrection. She becomes the Lamb’s wife in His glory, as in His rejection: she has part in His sufferings. We cannot have a portion with Christ above without having it with Him here on earth. Christ is one whole. The spouse of the King is the spouse on earth. The bride of the Lamb is the church in glory. She has the enjoyment of the ripe fruits of the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Even in the glory grace is the portion of the church. Government in justice characterises Jerusalem on earth. The city comes down from heaven. The city which comes from the earth is Babylon. Here it is the holy Jerusalem. She comes from heaven. She is not found on the earth; there is no thought even of her there. It may be manifested to the earth; but in its origin it is a heavenly thing, also in its character, in its nature altogether.

What comes from God is holy. Jesus, the only man who really came forth from God, was perfectly holy. He was not of the earth. It is impossible that anything could stain the origin of the nature of what comes from heaven. “He cannot sin, because he is born of God,” 1 John 3:9. Our risen body is a house of heaven: it is a glory reserved in heaven. What is truly of God abides in God and cannot fade. In its nature life, essentially divine, is not only pure, but it cannot fade nor become corrupt.

There is still something more— “the glory of God.” Then the city has the form and the beauty of what God manifests in the glory. God is glorified there: all shines with His glory; all relates to it, bears witness to it, and is clothed with it. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” Rom. 5:2. Christ shall come to be glorified in the saints, and the church is clothed with the glory of God Himself. It is precious to have always God’s true object in view, which cannot stop on this side His glory. If one would get at the bottom of the counsels of God, one must look to His glory. What makes me, in travelling, pass through such and such a place, is not the desire of seeing that place, but of getting to an end beyond. The sight of the glory sanctifies truly, and gives an object far above all that could be prepared to stop us here on earth. We shall never walk well here below, even in the smallest details, if the great end is not constantly before our eyes. If I have any object on this side the glory, even the welfare of the church in detail, my soul will suffer from it. In this consists that which elevates all the Christian does—if in everything he has the glory of God in view.

The Father, we have seen, is never mentioned in the Revelation; nor have we here the children of the Father, but the bride of the Lamb. This book speaks of government and glory; and God, in this book, takes all His titles save that of Father. The apostles of the Lamb (v. 14), not the twelve tribes of Israel, are the foundations of the city. The prophets knew that these things were not for themselves, but for us; i Pet. i:12.

There is a perfect order. The golden reed (v. 15), the exact righteousness of God, measures all and judges all. The result of the work of God is perfect. Nothing is wanting; nothing is too long; nothing is too short. All is perfectly regulated. Not a stroke of the hammer remains to be given. All is perfect—God is the Architect.

Verse 18. God’s glory is the building of the wall; this jasper represents God. Christ is girded with pure gold, and it is said, “Righteousness is the girdle of his loins.” It is the divine righteousness accomplished in Jesus, not the earthly. Verse 21. There is also purity, transparent glass, the perfect purity of God, which can no longer be defiled; chap. 15:2. The purity is no more of water, but of glass; it is consolidated, and rendered firm. The church, one with Christ, is seen there, having the righteousness of God, His purity, His holiness. The justice of man does not become a Christian. One cannot mix together with grace the earthly justice, which says “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” The righteousness of heaven can ally itself with grace, and the only righteousness that becomes a Christian is a heavenly righteousness. It gives, and no longer exacts. God having communicated His nature to the Christian, he is raised above sin, and is made partaker of God’s holiness; 2 Pet. 1; Heb. 12. The true character of the Christian is that of divine righteousness and holiness, and that of grace—what becomes God, when He is manifested as man. We want faith to lose our fortune and to forgive; but if it is coming out of the society of man, it is entering into that of God. What a portion for us, and how it does elevate our souls! This righteousness, this holiness of God, cannot be fully manifested until the church is seen in glory.

The difference of the stones (v. 19, 20) contains details which are above my knowledge. It is said of Satan, that before his fall he walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire—that every precious stone was his covering; Ezek. 28:14. The precious stones were on the breastplate of the high priest. These stones are not pure light, but the reflection of the divine glory, where the most elevated creature walked before its fall. It is in that position that Christ places the church on His heart, as high priest, and in the full manifestation of which He places her in the glory. The church is in that glory. It is what is nearest to God when the question is about the glory. It is the radiancy of divine glory reflected, and manifested in its varied beauty in the creature, and this in its most immediate relationship with God, a radiancy of divine light on and through the creature. In Ezekiel, this is the case in creation; on the breastplate of Jesus, in grace; here, in glory. In the first case the creature could not maintain itself there. Christ maintains the church there in its weakness. He places her there in the strength He has Himself in the glory. The point here is the right of the sovereignty of God, who places the church in this glory; and not the affection of the Father to His children.

Verse 21. The twelve gates are twelve pearls—that is, what is beautiful, the perfection of moral grace in the church, a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46): it was what Christ had looked for. The street of the city is of pure gold, as it were transparent glass; no defilement is any longer possible. Jesus will no more have to wash our feet in order that we may enter into the presence of God for our worship. In the glory we shall be standing on purity. The more we walk there, the more we shall get into purity, without having the need of conscience to be on our guard. The more we then let go our affections, the more we shall praise God. This is great rest to him who loves holiness. The precious stones express the solid basis of our glory, and we shall walk on purity. This is heavenly rest.

Verses 22-27. There is no more temple—that is to say, nothing that contains and hides the glory of God. God is the temple. He receives and encloses His people. If one came out of the temple, one found the world. Then we shall be shut up in God. He is the intimate centre of everything, as also the circumference of our happiness. If we would come out of purity, we must come out of God, who is infinite. All God’s names in this dispensation, save that of Father, are here. The Lamb, He who has suffered, and in whom our affections are concentrated, is also the temple. God shall be the Sun of the city (v. 23) and we shall know as we have been known. This has consequences. The nations upon the earth, spread in the judgment, walk in its light, the light of the city. Jesus saith, “The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me,” John 17:22-29. There will be a world which shall know it and see it, in the manifestation of that glory. The affection of the bride delights in the glory that belongs to the Lamb, and the bride is manifested in that glory.

The church, which is the manifestation of the goodness and of the glory of God, shall be the light of the world. It is in our glory that the world shall understand what a Saviour we have had. What joy for us, in whom will be seen, in the ages to come, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus! (Eph. 2:7). When the world shall see us there, it will then understand that God has loved us as He has loved Jesus. Everything corresponds with our portion here below. The earthly Jerusalem will take vengeance (shall execute the vengeance) on God’s enemies. We are here on earth the instruments of the grace and of the glory of God. Sinners may speak of it from the heart. This will continue in heaven. The church shall be in the glory, the testimony rendered to grace; and the earthly Jerusalem shall exercise the severity of justice against sin. God is now rejected and despised in us; He shall then be glorified in us.

Isaiah 60 shews that the earthly Jerusalem has the earthly government and the rights of the justice of God. “The nation that will not serve her shall perish,” v. 12. As to the heavenly Jerusalem, the nations of those who are saved shall walk in her light. All that God shall perfect in the glory ought to be manifested through the Holy Ghost here on earth. By anticipation the Holy Ghost gives us the foretaste of this glory. And the knowledge of that glory is a principle of action which the world can never understand; but it can see the fruits of it. The selfishness of the world understands the grace that is in the Christian, which can forgive; but, in principle, that grace is foolishness to him. Yet, although the world does not understand our motives, it sees the faithfulness, which is a testimony rendered to grace. May God be sanctified in us by the sight of that glory!

The beginning of chapter 22 shews us the relations of the heavenly city with the earth and the world. The world will see that we have been loved, and will know how much we have been loved, when at the appearing of Jesus we shall appear also with Him in glory. When He appears, it must be before some one. His appearing is the manifestation of His glory in the world where He has been rejected, but which God made the theatre of all that He manifested of Himself. It is there that sin entered; that Satan reigns; that man has lived in open revolt against God; that angels have served; that Jesus has suffered; that He has conquered hades, death, and the prince of this world. Nothing is more simple than God’s manifesting the glory of Jesus and that of Christians in this world, where they were despised. We shall now see the great principles of that glory.

The earthly Jerusalem has almost all the characters of the celestial one. Yet there is an essential difference. It is in the heavenly Jerusalem that the glory is, and it is from thence that it shines upon the earthly Jerusalem. Our Christian discipline here in the earth enables us to manifest this glory. The earthly Jerusalem is upon the earth, the seat of the government of God in justice. The glory requires that all the nations should be brought low; Zech. i:21; 2:8-13; 8:22, 23, etc. Under Israel we see the patience of God in government, with the incapacity of Israel to profit by it. Under the government of the New Jerusalem the law will be put in their heart (Ezek. 36:27), and will enable them to answer to this government of God, and God will manifest His glory there, “and my people shall be all righteous.”

In the heavenly Jerusalem there is a display more complete and more intimate of the resources that are in God to bless, if there are any miseries, and not obedience. In heaven are the fruits thereof continually presented in all their richness and in all their variety. At the same time there are also on the tree of life the leaves destined for the healing of the Gentiles. In Eden, man’s innocence was put to the test. There were the two trees, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The life, without which man can do nothing, and responsibility—such are the principles of all religion.

As to responsibility, man found himself in two positions—in innocence and in sin;48 that is, in Eden and under the law. The law requires obedience after the knowledge of good and evil is entered; and if there is evil, the only effect of the presence of God is to make us haste away as fast as possible. The law acts on the responsibility of man who has the knowledge of good and evil, and brings it to bear on him, but does not give life.

Christ has taken up man when hopeless on the ground of his own responsibility. He took the responsibility on Himself, and has given life. He becomes thus everything to man. He comes as expiation and as mediation, puts Himself under the responsibility according to all the requirement of God, gives full satisfaction, takes upon Himself all the result of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and takes the place of the other tree, and imparts life. Man ate, not of the tree of life, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When man places himself under responsibility, he is surely lost. To recognise that Christ is the source of life, and yet to keep the responsibility of one’s own salvation, is to be in confusion and in fear. Christ must answer as Mediator, and be the source of life. Thus it is that pure grace is the only way in which we can have to do with God. We shall even see traces of these things in the heavenly Jerusalem. Everything concerning ourselves is accomplished. Life and responsibility being united, it is a joy for us, as well as for the angels, to do the will of God. May God enable us to understand and to apprehend well these two principles, life and responsibility! If we take the responsibility upon ourselves, it is all over with us—we are undone.

Life is represented here under two figures: (1) A river of living water. We have not only the life in us, but we are drinking for ever of that life which proceeds from the throne of God, and flows in abundance through the city. (2) A tree of life. One might have eaten in Eden of the tree of life, but in that tree there was no principle of healing. Here this is not the case. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Gentiles. This tree of life is more blessed. Those that are in the city find food in its fruit, and from its leaves proceed the resources of life for those who are still on the earth. There is the joy of communion. We drink of the river of living water. Although this is the highest joy, yet it is a joy also, even for God, to do good to those who are in want. It is grace, it is goodness. We are made partakers of that joy in the holy city; we shall enjoy there the grace which heals, as well as the grace of drinking in His holiness. There is joy in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Thus in the heavenly Jerusalem, there is neither innocence without grace, nor responsibility and the law without life.

Verses 3, 4. There is the centre of all authority—the throne of God and of the Lamb. The rest there shall not be a rest of idleness. His servants shall serve Him. Nothing shall separate us from God, and we shall see His face; and in our foreheads (v. 4) nothing will be seen that is not the expression of God. All that God is, His name, shall be in our foreheads (that is to say, manifested in us in the most visible manner). Slaves had the name of their masters marked in their foreheads. We shall see the face of God. The pure in heart shall see God. The whole world shall see that we are the servants of God. All this is even before the world a plain manifestation of what God is. Verse 5. All that is here is an eternal state for the church.

Chapter 22:6-21

Verses 6, 7. Here terminates this description. When the Last Adam shall have exercised His power to re-establish all the things mentioned by the prophets, then shall be the end. He shall be Priest after the order of Melchisedec, Priest seated on His own throne, to praise God and to bless the world. This rebellious world shall then be made subject to Him. This is the form that the mediation will take at that time—not hidden, as it is now, but with His people.

Verse 10. There is here a remarkable expression. God had told Daniel to seal the prophecy (chap. 12:4); here, on the contrary, for the church, He says not to seal the prophecy. It is not denied that Jesus is coming again, nor do men intend to deny the coming dispensation; but its power over the conscience is avoided by saying “My Lord delayeth his coming.” But Jesus says “Behold, I come quickly,” and He delays not, but is patient, willing that all should repent. Therefore it is that God would not that the Revelation should be sealed. He says, “I come quickly.” In principle, nothing between the present moment and the coming of the Lord prevents the believer’s laying hold of His coming. God will have the coming of Jesus to be a thought dear to my heart and nigh; therefore He will not seal anything. God will not have anything in the heart of the believer, which separates between the time when the prophecy was given and the coming of Jesus.

At the epoch of the Reformation it was the explanation of this book (see Luther’s work, entitled “The Captivity of Babylon”) that gave power to come out of the iniquity and the corruption of the professing church. And if it was not the accomplishment of the thing itself in full, yet the principle was apprehended, and its application to what was displayed in his time.

Verse 16. In the beginning of the Revelation Jesus is set forth as the Root of David. Here He calls Himself the Root and Offspring of David, because He has taken His place of King, as Son of David. Here it is that the church on the earth comes again on the scene, as vessel of the testimony (that is to say, the prophecy is ended). In the prophetic part, the church is not seen unless it be in heaven prophetically. But He, who has borne the testimony, presents Himself here in Person. This awakens the affections of the spouse, and the church’s desire is that He would come.

We may see also how the coming of Jesus is addressed to all classes of persons. First (v. 7), “Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” I have no doubt but that this is a warning to us, and to anyone else; for the church is instructed in this book of all that is going to happen, and of the fruits and principles of the world, and of the world which calls itself Christian. But this exhortation applies to those that shall be found here when the church is gone, in the circumstances of which the book treats (v. 12). The coming of Jesus is addressed and presented to all, as bringing with itself the consequences of their works; and then, prophecy being at an end, Jesus presents Himself personally, “I Jesus, I am,” etc. This is that which awakens the desires of the church, which is His already, and which knows Him; and upon this He declares in answer, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly.”

Verse 17. This verse gives the normal position of the church while waiting for Jesus. It is not the bride only who calls for the Bridegroom; it is the Spirit and the bride. This desire of the bride is authorised and sanctioned by the Spirit Himself. It is not anything from the Spirit that one expects. It is the Spirit which desires, and He cannot desire the Spirit. The bride desires, and she desires the Bridegroom and not the Spirit. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” If I desire a millennium without Christ, it is not saying “Come quickly,” but it is saying Delay at least a thousand years. The church says naturally “Come,” if she has apprehended her privileges. There are souls who have not apprehended these privileges of the church; therefore He says, “Let him that heareth say, Come.” The church has already the river of life; and so she says to him that is athirst, “let him come,” for I have the river of life: “and whosoever will, let him take of the living water freely” (for I have it); let him take of it freely. The church presents grace while waiting for the Bridegroom: it is her duty and her privilege to invite those who are athirst to take of the water of life that she possesses. Having the Holy Ghost, the church invites to drink of this living water. Come and drink! The betrothed of Jesus, she says to the Bridegroom, “Come.” How desirable is her position here! As for herself, her affections are fixed above on Christ, whom she is expecting, and whom she desires. Meanwhile she is depositary and witness in grace of the grace she enjoys. She does not say, If any one is athirst, let him come to me, as Jesus could say; but it is her place, through grace, to say “Come and drink.” Nothing urges more to the plainest and most faithful evangelisation, than the thpught that Jesus is coming quickly. On the other hand, if you are wishing for money, or seeking to make provision for placing your children in the world, or if you have any plans for the future, you cannot wish for the Lord Jesus to come; and if you cannot, then your hearts are not right with Jesus. For Christians, it is a melancholy state. And if any one does not own the Lord, nothing is more awful than the coming of Jesus: it is judgment for such a one.

May God purify our hearts, in order that we may desire that Jesus would come quickly! Amen.

1 Geneva.

2 I speak only as to the mode of communication; the whole is of course inspired.

3 Nevertheless, although God the Father makes no more communication to the church, according to the relation of the Head of the body with the members of that body in its unity, yet He leaves here communications of the judgment He forms of the state of things which have the name of the church in the world, whatever its position or state may be The seven churches are taken as a sample of the various states on which He bears this judgment, and thus of warning to all.

4 The word “hereafter” misleads in the English translation. In the French there is no difficulty. The meaning is simply, after the things related in the account of the seven churches. It is simply “after these things.” The whole phrase is this, “The things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which are about to take place after these.”

5 In the main, this is true; but it seems to me that the ordinary interpretation (that God was seen as seated there at Jerusalem) is not quite correct. God sitting on the cherubim comes to judge the city. The glory of God comes from the north; it is the judgment executed by the Chaldeans; Ezek. 1:4. This glory stood in the plain; chap. 3:23. Ezekiel, carried to Jerusalem, finds again the glory there; chap. 8.

6 The glass clear as water presents holiness itself settled in an unchangeable manner. The water purified that which was defiled according to this same holiness.

7 The church is not, properly so called, a dispensation. It is the assembling together the co-heirs in unity, whilst the kingdom is in mystery. When the law ends as a dispensation, the kingdom is not yet established in power, and all is in transition. Here the saints are seen above, and the throne of God is in relation with the earth.

8 Most of the modern editions read here, after the authority of the best MSS., “has redeemed [us] … and they shall reign.” In that case it would be the song of those that are already above, who rejoice that their brethren, who are still here in the persecution, shall be delivered and shall reign.

9 It appears to me that they are those who suffered before the last tyranny of Antichrist. (See Revelation 20:4.)

10 We must add here the saints of the Old Testament, and, to meet the full force of the expression, even others also; Dan. 11. But at that time all will not be in heaven; v. 11. There are those who dwell on the earth. The church is a stranger and pilgrim there, as well as all the saints who lived before the coming of Jesus. (See Hebrews 11.)

11 I do not think that it is the church properly so called, as a whole; but those who have lost their lives for their testimony, and, as it seems to me, more particularly during the time when, as a church recognised on earth, she is no more there. Indeed, the church, as such, is not found again till the marriage of the Lamb.

12 This description in chapter 7 appears to me the least precise of any we have in the Revelation; but it is evident that what is said here does not amount to the normal position of the church. The elders speak of them as of a distinct class. The multitude ascribes their salvation to God, as He is revealed in the Revelation sitting on the throne. The whole chapter seems a preparation for what is going to take place, and presents to us beforehand the elect, who will be found in it, but whom God will preserve through the tribulation of that hour, from which those who keep the word of the patience of Christ shall be kept. However, this multitude is connected with the elders, but their joy is only that of consolation and of rest, and does not, beforehand, and for others, enter into the intelligence of God’s ways like those in chapter 5. Neither do they sing.

13 It is important to observe attentively the expression, as in fact this multitude is distinct from the twenty-four elders. No mention is made of heaven in a direct manner, save the expressions, “temple,” and “before his throne.”

14 This is true in one sense, but also it was before God as in heaven. Morally speaking, no one could, as to the antitype, enter there but as newborn, and Christ lifted up from the earth was before God. The court was, in certain aspects, the court of heaven, and not the world outside. It was a place of transition. The brazen sea, for instance, which was in the court, is seen here in heaven; the souls under the altar (burnt offerings) are in heaven. Nor is there any veil here. “I, if I be lifted up,” says Christ, “will draw all men unto me.” He was then rejected by the earth, and (though not yet ascended into heaven) had ceased to be a living man, Messiah on the earth—lifted up to God in glorifying Him—He still was in view of man below, and thus became the perfect and attractive meeting place.

15 It appears to me that this is more immediately connected with, and confined to, the Jews (but they are identified with the Gentiles who are in the land. The same is seen in Isaiah 66)—to speak more exactly, to Palestine.

16 This gives the Psalms a character worthy of remark. Deliverance is effected through the execution of judgments, which are therefore demanded. The church, on the contrary, will comes out of all by ascending up into heaven. The Psalms are evidently connected with the Jewish remnant alone in the latter days, and with the consequences proceeding from it, as to the world; also with the work and the sympathies of Christ, which form the basis of it.

17 The writer wrote later as follows:—

As to Daniel, Christ was cut off and took nothing (see margin—the real sense—did not take the kingdom then), after sixty and two weeks, that is sixty-nine. Now we learn from the gospels His ministry was as nearly as possible three years and a half, so that for intelligent faith there is only half a week left, and, in fact, only that of the great tribulation. For unbelief—the beast and the apostate Jews—there is a week; and they enter into covenant for this time, but he breaks it when half through, takes away the sacrifice, and the great tribulation begins—that which is spoken of in Matthew 24, after verse 15, and in Mark 13—and this only in the Revelation.—Letter, February, 1881.

See also in Prophetic Volume 4, “Are there two half-weeks in the Apocalypse?”

18 Some believe that the judgment itself of Antichrist is the third woe. I was made to say so in the first edition of these notes, but I doubt it. I cannot believe that the description given at the beginning of the chapter is that of the last days of the man of sin. The worship of the faithful and the temple of God are preserved intact, and the strong testimony rendered by the two witnesses secured against all attack, those who hurt them being killed. Now, if this be so, this would be the first half week, the other half remains yet to be fulfilled. (Compare Matthew 24:15.) I find it also difficult to believe that it is just at the time of the two witnesses being killed that all terminates. Now, it is at the end of the twelve hundred and sixty days. In chapter 12 we have twelve hundred and sixty days, of which it is said, “woe,” etc., which resemble much more Matthew 24. Neither does it seem to me right to call the judgment of God a woe. We must remember also that the dominion of the beast lasts twelve hundred and sixty days, and that the two witnesses live during the like period. Are they synchronical? I do not think so.

19 It will be found that the number seven is figurative of spiritual perfection, either in good or evil; and twelve, of perfection in man, such as the twelve patriarchs, the twelve apostles.

20 Psalm 80:17. f See footnote on page 32.

21 It appears to me certain, that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the testimony that He has rendered Himself, not the testimony that is rendered unto Him.

22 The order here is to be remarked, viz., the rapture of the male child—the war in heaven—the persecution (through Satan who is cast out of it) of the woman in the earth.

23 Only they are recognised in the form of the beast in verse 4. Prophecy could only belong to the fourth beast now, the Roman empire. It is the most important beast, the one which had to do with the Lord Jesus. The Roman empire has been proved by God through the presence of the Lord Jesus. Jesus was presented to the fourth beast, and condemned by Pilate, as King of the Jews. He was born King of the Jews, and the throne of God on earth belongs to Him. He was rejected of men: nevertheless, the throne belongs to Him, and shall be restored unto Him.

24 In its final destruction, it is characterised as “the false prophet.” It is perhaps uncertain whether its destruction, as false prophet, presents anything else but what characterises the beast, the only character it retains in its last relations with the first beast.

25 See footnote on page 78 and the paper re “Antichrist.”

26 These notes were taken in 1842.

27 I have some doubt whether the song of the Lamb does not refer here rather to the exaltation of the Lamb in royal power and preferment in the latter day, than to His perfect work on the cross. The Lamb had been slain; but in the Revelation it is ever rather the place He who had been slain takes than His death that is in question. It is that suffering Person that is brought forward. So here. Mercy and truth will then be met together; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Truth shall flourish out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. These are God’s ways. No doubt this was morally accomplished on the cross; but that Psalm speaks of its manifestation in result on earth, and so here. It is the manifestation on earth of these things rather that is sung, not that in which they are known to faith.

28 The idolatry is that by which God characterises its real Satanic evil; its luxury, and pleasure, and gain, that by which man is attracted to it.

29 The best manuscripts add, “and the beast,” which would modify what is said here. Thus, in following the will of the beast in the destruction of the woman, it would seem that it is not at the time when her destruction takes place that they give first their power to the beast. It is a proof of their subjection, but not its commencement.

30 With the beast. See the preceding note.

31 There is no doubt but that the abominations presented here, as that which characterise the great whore, are idolatries; religious corruption characterises her. Worldliness and luxury serve as occasions to dazzle the eyes, and to blind and take hold of the heart. All these latter things fall into ruin, but the cause for the judgment is the religious evil. (See the note, page 60).

32 As a general term, fornication is used for idolatry, as the Greek is indeed for adultery.

33 A pagan is in Egypt. Satan is his prince. Israel came out of Egypt—never returned there, but was in captivity in Babylon.

34 I leave this in the text as it is, but I have made some researches in the word, which make me hesitate a little as to this phrase, as regards the special relationships of the two beasts in Revelation 13, and their connection with other passages. However that may be, the two beasts perish together, and the second beast supports the first. What I am doubtful of is, whether some passages which, in general, are applied to the first beast, would not rather apply to the second. See paper in this Volume, “Enquiry into the Antichrist of Prophecy.”

35 But in Daniel we have the details of the history, and, consequently, three horns fall before the little one. Whereas in the Revelation this is omitted, for there we have rather what characterises the beasts, than their history on the earth.

36 The final apostasy, or the revolt, will at the same time go still farther; it will be the denial of the Lord thus known (as outward profession); the denial of the Messiah by the Jews, who will give themselves up to Antichrist; and of God by man, who will extol himself in pride against Him. It will be the full result of the work of Satan, the corruption of the church, or the substitution of his works to the church, in borrowing her name, and his master-piece in sublety and artifice.

37 [Rather, in league with the beast or imperial power of Rome in that day.—Ed.] See footnote page 78.

38 While associated together in their work, some question would arise in my own mind here as to the repartition of the work between the two beasts. See note page 78.

39 I do not alter anything here, because I do not doubt of its being true; but the relation’s of the second beast with the state of Palestine in the last days are not mentioned here.

40 The warrior judgment by the Lord ends in the destruction of the beast and of its armies; chapter 20:1-3 brings before us Satan bound after this judgment. Verse 4 begins again, and we have to the end of the chapter sessional judgment—sessional judgment on a throne, whether it be at the beginning of the millennium, or during its duration, or after. Verses 3, 4 are not historically consecutive, although generally, in point of the subject, they are so.

41 It is remarkable that while relating how they had rejected all God’s appeals to them to return to Him in repentance, Stephen, in making mention of the actual captivity of the Jews, speaks of their sin in the desert, specially of that of idolatry, as the cause.

42 That is to say, where we see them shut up in this chapter.

43 This is very far from being all that is in the blessed Lord’s death; but I confine myself to this point here.

44 It appears that the best MSS read here, “they shall reign”; but this does not make any alteration in the argument of the text.

45 Not only did God manifest Himself in Christ, but Jesus gave Himself even unto death, in order that all that God is should be manifested in all God did with regard to Him, and for us through Him, and that all the glory of God, all the truth of His character, should be vindicated and established by that which came upon Jesus.

46 It is interesting to see in Psalms 1 and 2 the rights of Jesus as the righteous man according to the government of God, and His rights according to the counsels of God, as the Anointed, the Christ. In the following Psalms one sees clearly that nothing of all this is yet accomplished, as is well known. But, Christ having suffered, we have in Psalm 8 the great result on the earth of His position as Son of man explained in Hebrews 2. Compare Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:9, 10; and see Luke 9, where He forbids His disciples to announce Him as the Christ, substituting for this title the sufferings and the glory of the Son of man—the portion of the church. Compare also John 11 and 12, where His rights as Son of God and Son of David are set in evidence; and as soon as His right as Son of man begins to dawn, the sufferings present themselves to the Lord, and our participation in those sufferings.

47 I hardly need say here, that this does not mean that there has not been a church on the earth during the ages which have elapsed since Pentecost. I have insisted enough upon this in other writings. There certainly was a church, and in the relation of a bride with Christ through faith. But the marriage was not come, and it is equally evident that the whole of it is not formed before she is in the glory. Her characteristic place is in heaven. She belongs there. What else is here is only the general principle of what God will accomplish in the glory. God wills that man should manifest this before the world, in the power of the Holy Ghost, until Jesus return; and she is here, consequently, the habitation of God through the Spirit.

48 In either case, made subject to a law.