Fragment on Revelation 11 and 12

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
We find ourselves here in the midst of Jewish circumstances, not earthquakes, horsemen, etc., as before, but the ark, the covenant, Moses and Elias testimony, etc. The reason is simple, namely, the government of the earth is connected with Israel. Israel is the center of Gentile blessing and judgment. The church is in heavenly places with Christ, but the object round which all God's ways on earth center is Israel (See Deut. 32:88When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8).) There we see the grand center round which He portioned the nations at first. (See also verse 15.) They forgot God, His anger is stirred, He scattered them among their enemies. Then, verse 36, the Lord turns His hand again upon them for good. He has mercy on His heritage, and then judges the Gentiles. (Read to verse 43.) To this point of the history we have now arrived; but the subject of Revelation is judgment upon the apostate part of the Gentiles, not the Gentiles generally. It is where the light shined and has been rejected. Here in the true sense of the word are adversaries, and we have to notice the rebellious character of this apostasy, and Jew, Gentile and church of God (so-called) are in open opposition to Him who has the right to reign. The time will come when there will be only a passive testimony for God, in those who refuse to worship the beast; and as the iniquity ripens, there will be no testimony for God at all, when those who are in Judea will flee to the mountains.
Let us turn and see in this chapter 11 the condition in which Israel will be in that day, then the Gentiles themselves, and the testimony of God to them then. When God begins to measure in this way (v. 1), there is something to measure, but there is something left out: God says, there is something I own as My portion. First, those who are worshippers are taken account of, those who have a priestly character; they are not going with the multitude, but are within. All this language is connected with Jews; the locality is the holy place, properly so called, and the people are those who own the true God, and all the rest is given up to the Gentiles; the holy city is given up to be trodden down of the profane.
Verse 3. God has a witness. It is not the gospel, but His power over the earth. It is not the same testimony now, for He is gathering out a people to be to the praise of the glory of His grace. In these witnesses, we see there are not only those in priestly character, but prophets, and they are in sorrow- they prophesy in sack-cloth: opposition is their portion, and it is for a limited period.
Dan. 9:2424Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24). Bear in mind that Israel were to be cast aside until he saw what the end would be. In Daniel we never find the blessing fully given. Daniel is in the place of a remnant, and sees the blessing just about to be brought in. Millennial blessedness is not yet come. Here the thing closes at sixty-nine weeks, the last week is wanting. Afterward the prince comes, not Messiah, but the anti-messiah for the overspreading, etc.
He will make alliance with the Jews (the first half-week), and in the midst will be the overspreading of desolation, utter desolation comes in because of this idolatry or abomination in Israel. Idolatry will come in to Israel (Isa. 66:1717They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 66:17)), sanctifying themselves behind one tree in the midst, etc. There is an interval, how long we know not (" it is not for you to know the times and the seasons ") between the rejection of Christ and His coming again; Dan. 11. Desolations are determined, the history of the evil is narrated, the ships of Chittim shall come; and in verse 33 of that chapter, the expression " days " alludes to the present-it is a picture of what is going on, and we are now in the unlimited period signified by the expression " days." The week, which remains to be fulfilled after the interval, is taken up in the Revelation.
The mission of the two witnesses (Rev. 11) is not to preach the gospel, but they come with the testimony that Christ is Lord of the earth. There is a God that judgeth in the earth. It is true that God's eternal righteousness is connected with the Man in heaven, for the only righteous One has been rejected from earth and accepted in heaven, and now the angels are learning the manifold wisdom of God through the church, His body, down here. Then He will turn round and show that He has a right on the earth, and He will not give it up. Then He says to His people as in Isaiah, " Come ye into your chambers," etc. This claim the men of the earth will not hear, and as soon as God gives His two witnesses leave, they devour them with fire (v. 5).
There is an allusion to Zechariah in the account of these two witnesses. Zechariah shows how this is all set up in order in Israel (Zech. 4): the candlestick of gold and a bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon, and everything is in its place. The source of the two olive-trees is shown-Christ in Melchisedec order, ministering the oil; showing that Jehovah takes the name of God over all the earth, maintaining the brilliancy of the testimony, and the Jewish people as the candle of God's government. In Revelation we do not get the establishment of them on the earth, and therefore there is opposition: it is the time which precedes their establishment. We find that the character of the testimony of these two witnesses is judgment: " let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness "-there are two witnesses, " that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Verse 5, there is present, living, manifest power against the people that oppose them. Elijah-power is first, and what was that? The testimony of God in an apostate people. Moses-power is last; turning everything into death. As the Mosaic plagues characterized the testimony in the midst of an oppressed Israel, so when they are captive amongst the Gentiles in the last days, there will be the same kind of testimony. Then as soon as the Lord has given an adequate testimony, they are given over to believe a lie: there is power from beneath permitted to influence them. The beast comes out with Satanic power. All power comes down from heaven. " The powers that be are ordained of God," magistrates, etc.; even Pilate's power to crucify Jesus was of God, as the Lord said, " Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." But the question is, what use did he make of it? But in the day that is coming, after the witnesses are removed, the power will come from beneath, from the devil.
The judgment then becomes alarming, and after the Spirit of God has raised up the witnesses, and they have ascended to heaven, the remnant being affrighted (not converted) give glory to the God of heaven. But it is too late. No wonder the Lord says of that time, it is such as never was, and except those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved. These prophets tormented them that dwell on earth; the " remnant are affrighted." There is alarm at the judgments disclosed, but no reception of the testimony. There is zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. The Jews had this before, and how did they show it? By killing the disciples and thinking they were doing God service, because they knew neither the Father nor the Son. There was nothing but the fruit of alarm in them, as in Judas when he went and hanged himself. They give glory to the God of heaven, but they should have given glory to Him as God of the earth. We see in the chapter a very special definite form of evil and also of good, and the center is Jerusalem.
In the seventh trumpet nothing is entered into, because it is the opening of the seven vials. Faith anticipates the blessing coming-no woe here. He is going positively to reign, and have things His own way. Would God have such a world as this is now, if He had taken to Himself His great power and reigned? His patient grace is being exercised, but not His right to reign asserted. The nations are angry, and that is what His coming produces. " Thy wrath is come." They see the whole result of God's taking all into His own hand. If the wrath is come, who are the objects of it? (v. 18).
The last verse of this chapter is connected with chapter 12 and in it we get two things: the ark of His covenant symbolical of God's faithfulness to Israel; and earthquakes and judgments on the earth.
The outline of chapter 12 shows the same thing as we have noticed in others: God's purpose of bringing in the Firstbegotten into the world. We must know the value of the symbols, to be able to understand the language at all. The sun always means supreme power-the woman is clothed with sovereign power. Christ is to be born of her-clearly not of the church. The church is the woman out of the man, but Christ is the man out of the woman. The church is the Eve, the woman taken out of the man. Here we have the man born of the woman, and it is a far more blessed thing to be in the position of the church than of this woman. But Christ was born of Israel. The moon is seen under her feet: all the passing phases which have been her glory are all done with- Judaism in its old form is gone completely. The twelve stars are all its administrative power in perfection, subordinate power.
Verse 3 has in it the principle of strength out of weakness. It is the Roman Empire historically, but literally Satan's power. It has ten horns, not seven, and not the human administrative perfection of twelve. The child that is to rule does nothing at all, being caught up to God, and the woman who is to be the center of God's power is hidden in the wilderness. The church is included in the Man, all through the Old Testament; Isaiah so, etc.
Satan's being deprived of a place in heaven, causes him to stir up war on earth (v. 12). There is war in heaven first, and then Satan is cast out and makes war on earth. Connect Dan. 12 and Matt. 24 with this account. While Satan is in the heavenly place, whatever God has done in goodness man has spoiled in wickedness. This terrible power that man is unable to cope with (that the saints cannot is their own fault, it is true), which hinders God's testimony on the earth, will be cast down, and he can then rage against heaven, but he cannot corrupt from heaven. Christ anticipated this when He said, I saw Satan fall like lightning-" the accuser of our brethren is cast down." This is the last woe to the earth: Satan rages on it. A flood issues from his mouth (v. 15). He tries to overwhelm Israel, but God will not suffer it.
The subject of the chapter is the dramatis personce, as men say, of the great flood of evil coming on in that day. The testimony of Jesus is the testimony of the whole book-not preaching the gospel; as in 1 Peter 1 we see the preaching of the prophets, as the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. So here it is not the Holy Ghost sent down and making you see with unveiled face the glory of the Lord. The testimony of Christ is of a different kind, the testimony of power, not of grace. The cherished place is to be above and see the thunderstorm rolling beneath.