Lecture 2

 •  46 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Last week we were occupied with the vision given to John in Patmos. Being in the Spirit, he saw Jesus Christ in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, but with all the glorious insignia of the Ancient of days (yet Son of man) examining the churches. The whole scene was brought before John's mind as if it were on earth and in Patmos.
In our study to-day, the scene is laid in heaven. John is in the Spirit, and as caught up thither finds the same Jesus Christ, but here as the Lamb that had been slain and in the midst of the throne of the Lord God Almighty.
I made last week, a prefatory remark or two upon the importance of every one remembering the unity of God's truth; and pointed out that the -revelation of the sent One involves His life and sufferings in humiliation here on earth, as now past; His patience and gifts, as now at God's right hand on high; and hereafter, His coming glories whether in heaven or on earth. Without seeing these three subdivisions in the service of the Lord, neither can its connection with His Father and God (of whom and to whom and through whom that service was, and is, and will be), be enjoyed, nor the fullness of the gospel be at all rightly understood.
To-night I desire to add to those prefatory remarks, a few words in answer to the question:- Who is this Lord-who in humiliation, patience, and glory works such wondrous things in behalf of God and His saints, and before men and angels?
" Worship God" (said the angel in Rev. 19:1010And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)) for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy," or, " the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus." This is always true, as to every part of scripture, for no scripture is of any private interpretation, though truth might be ministered in a fragmentary way at one time, and at another time in a more comprehensive form:* yet the center and end of all scripture is Jesus Himself; it is of Him the Spirit testifies in the word, and in us: the scope of no context is seen till its connection with Jesus is seen.
Evidently this book of the Revelation includes an immense range and has divine and heavenly depths and heights in it. For Jesus Christ is spoken of in it as the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; and, though not enlarging upon it, yet "His Father" from time to time referred to. (Chaps. 1:6; 2:27; 3:5 and 21; 14:1.) He is in the midst too of the throne, of Jehovah Elohim Shaddai (chap. 5:6); and the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple in the templeless city of glory (chap. 21:22); the glory of God did lighten it and the-Lamb is the light thereof (ver. 23); the throne is the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Chap. 22:1; &c., &c.)
Again creation, providence; and government are three kingdoms in which the Son's power and glories have been manifest. (See John 1:33All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3); Col. 1:16, 1716For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16‑17); Rev. 1:55And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5).) So again, though much more fully testified of) as to eternal redemption and salvation; these had and have no being save through and in Him. Study Himself, beloved friends, in Philippians 2:5-135Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:5‑13); and Colossians 1:12-2012Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:12‑20); and 2:9,10, &c.; and own the infinite majesty of this Jesus Christ, who knowing all things, said of Himself, " No one knows the Son but the Father; neither knows any one the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (Matt. 11:2727All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27).)
I will speak yet more freely and do you judge what I say.
Jesus-who is He? Matthew says they shall call His name Emmanuel, that is, God with us; thou shalt call His name Jesus (Jehovah a-saving), for He shall save His people from their sins. (Chap. 1:21-23.) The name of Jehovah is not a creature's name, and Jesus is the man that is Jehovah's fellow (Zech. 13:77Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)); and God manifest in flesh. Before any angel or creature of any kind was formed, He was in the beginning and He was with God, and He was God; and without Him was not one thing made that was made. One that never had a beginning can only be said of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the newly revealed divine name; I say this as to now, because in the old scriptures, we read of Jehovah, Messiah, and Ruach (or the Spirit). God never began to be:-and the Son was with the Father and the Spirit in eternity, God. The first Adam in Eden pointed like a finger post to Him that was to come, was a type of Him as the last Adam, and yet He who was the last Adam existed before the first, even in eternity. In the garden of Eden, Adam was created first, and out of a crooked rib taken from his side while he slept Eve was formed.' In its separation from the human body, such a thing would be in itself most unsightly, yet God built it up into Eve as a companion and helpmeet for him. The last Adam will have a bride, the confidante of His love, the church formed by the Holy Spirit a new creation in Christ Jesus.
When creation got under the power of sin, it became a wreck, and the earth was judged for man's wickedness at the deluge. Yet creation has still a voice to man, as Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19-2319Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:19‑23), show us power from everlasting and divine glory are both stamped upon it. Men own that: that even in nature there are proofs that but one being made it all and He of power self-existing. But, what if I say, Yes, there is but one God and He very good, as I judge from natural religion, but has He always been my first object in life? Alas no! and so, according to the testimony of natural theology I am lost. But God who is rich in mercy gave His Son, and in Jesus was life, and the life was the light of man; as lost in myself I bow to Him in whom there is a new creation.
Then as to providence; we see how in the first creation every tree and plant had seed; so also as to the fowls of heaven, and the fish of the sea, and animals; there had been provision made for pro-,creating the species. But when sin had come in, God made a covenant in providence and took care to have the rainbow as the sign of it. For wicked as man might be, He would continue the seasons, and give crops while the world stood: and He declared that it should not again be destroyed by water. How blessedly, too, does the Lord proclaim this truth as to the sun shining upon the evil and upon the good; and the rains descending likewise; as to the lilies of the field and the grass which today is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; and as to not one sparrow falling to the ground without our Father which is in heaven, &c., &c. Moreover, providence is used by Him in His dealings of grace; as in Psalm 107 for sinner and for saint.. When I look round me on the earth and see the fruits of sin on every side, what could I do if I did not know that there, was the blessed One above and behind it all? Affliction, hunger, sickness are all around in this groaning creation. I should be sorrowful unto despair, but I see by faith the God of providence, above and behind it all, using it all for His own glory and to draw and force men to come to Him.
Then, too, there is a kingdom of government, God governing all down here. Once He made Himself king, as well as God, of a nation, Israel. When Israel would not own Him, either as their God or their king, he called a Nebuchadnezzar to take the kingdom; and, when he was heedless as to his thoughts and words, he too was judged. By whom but Himself do kings reign and princes decree justice? He raised a Darius and an Alexander and a Caesar and told out what He meant to do, hundreds of years before He did it. Under Cesar our Lord was crucified, and that He foretold. And, that we might know Him and own Him in government, He has told us how all the glory of the great image of Gentile imperial power, shown to Nebuchadnezzar, will pass away through man's wickedness; and the gold, and the silver, and the brass, and the iron mingled with clay become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, before the Lord Messiah coming to take up Israel; the king that is to come in the name of the Lord.
Then, last and most important, there is the kingdom of eternal redemption and salvation. Until the fullness of time came, there was no seed of the virgin born by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit: no Son of the Most High that could be laid in the manger; or, as a youth, go and hear and answer questions in the temple; that could afterward go about in Almighty power, doing good and teaching; and then be crucified, put to death and be buried. He is the one of whom and to whom the Holy Spirit always bears witness. Are your spirits occupied with that with which the Holy Spirit is occupied?
The sum of these two sets of prefatory remarks, that of last week and that just given,* might be thus stated. The beauty of the character and ways of Jesus, as displayed in His past humiliation; in His present patience; and in His coming glories (when He is looked at as Redeemer and Savior for eternity, and His actings therein), do not exhaust, are not equal to, the aggregate of the testimony which the Spirit and the written word give to Him. Himself is ever one and the same; but the displays and manifestations of God through Him-who shall count, who can tell?
I must here make another remark and that is of importance. The connection of that which is found in each book of the scriptures, with the subject treated of in it, and the aspect in which, the subject is being looked at, is much more stringent and distinctive than most are aware. For instance, as the four gospels give us four different aspects of the life of the Lord, when down here on earth, so do the epistles give us different aspects of Him, and what is His now, where He is; and of Him, and what will be His hereafter. For instance, Ephesians and Corinthians both treat of Christ as in Headship of the church. But in Ephesians, it is the church as body and bride of Christ; in Corinthians, it is the church as the church of the living God.
Again in John's gospel, we have the Lord doing everything down here needful for the many sons to be brought to glory. When risen from the dead, a supplementary chapter is added, in which the millennial glory on earth is first pictured, and then that which treats of the continuance of what characterized John's beyond Peter's day. In John's epistles the eternal life in the children is first treated of. Then in second epistle, the solemn responsibility of holding fast the truth; amt is the third, life and grace pressed; and Diotrephes made to be of no comparative importance.
In the Revelation, the Lord, where He now is, is shown as the Head of all government and religion. The Son of man, &c., and the Lamb. This produces certain contrasts, as well as, occasionally, correspondences in what is found in the various epistles. As one result, you will find that verses often quoted as equivalent the one to the other, are very different one from the other, when each is studied in its context. In reading, I desire to read what is before me, and to study it in its context, and to note the aspect in which the subject is looked at in the book.
The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ &c. has its own lessons to teach. It is more like Daniel than any other book in scripture, and has large connections with the contents of Daniel's prophecies,-though its own line is peculiar to itself and distinctive. There is a spiritual propriety in Peter's entering into many things which are not found in John's writings, and resting in detail upon them. They were according to the line given to Peter, and not according to that given to John. So likewise as to Peter and Paul, and the differences between their lines. And so as to John and Paul, their lines may often approximate, and meet at various points, but the aspect of their subjects is different and so a fuller and more comprehensive communication of truth is the result. This ought to be carefully attended to.)
To turn now to our study of the Revelation, or Apocalypse. Last Tuesday we loosed the first band round the roll of John's stream of time. The roll soon stopped unfolding itself; and the close of what lay open before us was at the end of chapter 3. We examined the introductory chapter and the two succeeding ones. The scene was laid in Patmos, isle of John's exile. There, in vision, John in the Spirit saw the Ancient of days as Son of man in His visitation (to use an ecclesiastical term) of the seven churches.
I now loose the second band; and the roll of John's stream of time runs out to the middle of chapter 19. Verse 10 is the last visible. The scene is here laid in quite a different place from where it was before: for (says John) " After these things" (those in chaps. 1, 2, 3.) I looked and behold a door was opened in heaven: and. the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me, saying, Come up hither* and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." Then we find John was in the Spirit and saw things in heaven. In chapter 5:6, the Lamb is discovered in the midst of the throne; and in chapter 6 and onward to chapter ix. He begins teaching His servant the things which were to come forth from Inn on the throne. There seems to be a change, a blank, between chapters 9 and 10.
(* Many suppose that John's transit, here, in spirit to heaven (the things which are hereafter," of chapter 1.) corresponds with the nature of the saints. (1 Thess. 4))
Down to the end of chapter 9. John was in heaven in spirit and vision, learning from what went forth from the Lamb in heaven. But there was nothing come forth to the earth which when 'seen in itself; such an one as John could read and understand. In chapter 10., as I judge, it is the messenger of the covenant who comes forth, and 'then there is a testimony for John and His servants to give upon earth and among men; and the things on earth assume the forms predicted in prophecy, as in Daniel and the Psalms, the preparation for, the beginning of, the end.
With chapter 19:11 the Lord lays aside His hidden privacy, leaves heaven, and comes out Him-'self, and with Him His armies from heaven; there is no longer a testimony to be given by servant or prophet, for the King of kings and Lord of lords is openly displayed as openly taking vengeance upon His foes. This we hope to study next week, namely, on the 25th.
The throne in chapter 4 is that of the LORD God Almighty (or Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai). Observe the name used in creating (in Gen. 1-2: 3) is Elohim, GOD. At verse 4 of chapter 2, that is, when man's settling in Eden is in question, the name is LORD GOD. This word LORD is often used in scripture and the Psalms as marking relationship between GOD and man; as " the LORD said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country," &c. "Gen. 12:11Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: (Genesis 12:1).) Abram was to become a specimen of one in relationship with the true God. So this, name was that which marked God's relationship with the descendants of Abraham, the Jews (Exodus 3 proves it). As to Shaddai, we read Genesis 17:11And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1), " The LORD appeared to Abram and said, I am the Almighty God [El Shaddai], walk before me and be thou petted." (Look, friends, at the word "walk before me," I pray you. It is a fresh version of the old truth, " Enoch walked with God.") Shaddai means rather almighty in resources than almighty in the abstract; and that was well proved by Abraham, by Israel, and may be by each homeless pilgrim now. "Almighty in resources:" is He your God? (source and stream and end? and in known relationship with yourself, each of you?) The word Jehovah is a title never given to any save the self-existent One. Not so the word Lord or lord, possessor or master.
There are a variety of thrones referred to in scripture as the seats or resting-places of God: do, not hastily assume that there is but one. This one,* in chapter 4, has emblems of creation, providence, and government, about it. The four living creatures, the rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald, and the four and twenty seats, round about the one grandest seat of all-seat of Him who to look upon was like unto a jasper and a sardine stone, suffice to prove it. The four living creatures lead the praise in verses 8, 9; and then (ver. 10) the four and twenty elders, in the glory of their royal priesthood, worship Him that sits on the central seat, and give back, in adoration and worship, the blessings they have received: they fall down and worship Him, casting their crowns before Him, while (with the music of a thankful heart) they sing, " Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor and power," &c. (Chap. 5:11.) The signs of judgment (ver. 5) and the seven lamps of fire, now burning before the throne, which are the seven, Spirits of God, and (ver. 6) the sea of glass like unto crystal (purity in fixed abidance), should be noticed.
(* The word is the same as the word seats, verse 4.)
But where is the Lamb all this while? none such is to be seen there as yet. Now I ask your particular attention to this. John saw, in the right hand of Him who was on the throne, a little roll, written inside and out, sealed with seven seals.
And a mighty angel heralded the challenge, "Who is worthy to open the little roll [it contained secrets reserved till then] and to loose its seals?"
No one in or of the universe could be found able to open it, or even to look upon it. John wept. But one of the elders bids hint not to weep, for-there was One (not a mere man nor to be found in the range of this creation), and He had overcome to open it and to loose its seals. Yes! the Nazarene, in whose face men spat, the One despised and rejected on earth, mocked with a crown of thorn, and a reed scepter, has prevailed, is the One that has overcome all that stood against Him; and, among other fruits of His service to God, He must have this of being the One who, in the midst of the throne, is to be the communicator to those whom He has bought, and who serve Him (even now down here) of the things which were shortly to come to pass. And we know this.
And "lo! in the throne [which must have opened to let Him be seen, as He is not seen in chapter 4.], and of the four living creatures,* and of the twenty-four elders, stood [the central object of all] a Lamb as slain, having seven horns and seven eyes which rare the seven spirits of God sent forth unto all the earth." Mark this, the Lamb once slain, but now with the perfection of power and intelligence, and both of these communicative, because inseparably connected with the seven Spirits of God sent forth unto all the earth. And mark, too, thus discovered and made manifest (God's own rich resource) His bearing! " He came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne."
(* The word is living creature and not beast.)
Thereon (vers. 8-10) the four living creatures and the glorified royal priesthood fall down now before the Lamb and worship Him. The harps mark melody in the scene. And the golden vials full of incense show, amid the glory, how God, in the whole pathway to it, had put all the tears and cries of need of His poor people here below into His bottle. Remembered by Him they are, remembered by us too, they will be, in the glory.
Verses 9, 10* show us how far what John had learned to sing in Patmos when he saw his loving Master there, was identical with the mind of heaven and the song of the twenty-four elders in glory.
(* If the critics upon the evidence of the best Greek manuscripts are right, and that it should be "redeemed to God" in verse 9 (instead of "redeemed us to God"), and in verse 10 "made them" (instead of "made us"), then John, instead of only hearing Ins own wilderness-learned song (as in chap. 1) repeated here in heavenly glory, found out how the glorified royal priesthood have a sort of precentorship place in leading praise for blessings of redemption and salvation as extended to others than as (chap. 1:5). That as now called. in humiliation to pray and give thanks for all men (1 Tim. 2) so then in glory to praise for all the extensions of retie emir and saving love.)
The angelic host around (vers. 11, 12) worship too; but they cannot touch the note of redeeming love and salvation through the blood, as we poor sinners saved by grace can. The song circles out and around to the whole universe, below the throne. (Ver. 13.) The four living creatures say Amen and the twenty-four elders worship. It is a rich scene to have before us! The feeblest and least, all there, can and do give back in praise that which they have received.
Observe the difference between the blood as of atonement (in Rom. 3:2525Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25); 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21); and Heb. 10.), and the blood, as applied to the conscience, and setting the heart free to sing as with John in chapter 1:5, and the blood (Rorn. 3:26); and the blood, as in a wider range, connected with salvation and redemption as here.
That the Lamb is the communicator to His own of knowledge and light is the blessed instruction given in this portion. A fresh token of His worthiness and love to us, and of God's rich grace.
In chapter 6 the opening of the seals begins.
The first four, introduced by one or other of the, living creatures (ver. 2), an all-conquering power; (ver. 4), one that takes peace from the earth, and causes men to kill one another; (ver. 5), famine of the necessaries of life, not of its luxuries; (ver. destruction over one-fourth of the earth by means, of the sword, hunger, death, and wild beasts, God's four plagues; verse 9, souls beneath the altar of those slain for the word of God and for the testimony given, come into remembrance and are cheered; verse 12, a terrific earthquake eliciting from the wicked on earth the confession of their alienation from and distrust of God. For their hearts and ways were not right with Him. The unreconciled always expects destruction because he deserves it and thinks God will be against him, for he is against God. Injure any man, and you will naturally expect that he will injure you if he can. Our thoughts too often are the expression of our own selves.
Chapter 7 is a parenthesis-in the midst of judgment, mercy is remembered. First, 144,000: that is, 12,000 of each tribe of Israel sealed; that no judgment for the earth may reach them (vers. 1-8); and, secondly (vers. 9-17), an innumerable multitude, gathered from all nations of the earth, stand before the throne and the Lamb, clothed in white and palms in their hands. How precious these rays of mercy are! At the destruction of Sodom, God remembered Abraham and spared Lot according to the yearning that led Abraham to intercede. Lot, wife, and two daughters, were spared. One turns round when she ought not, and meets with judgment. Brethren! remember Lot's wife! God is merciful and compassionate often in the midst of judgment, but He looks for immediate obedience as the result. God anticipates; and He said, "Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do?" That was in judgment. Here in purest mercy 144,000 of Israel which had crucified their Messiah are guarded from grief; and then from among all nations an innumerable multitude are rescued for God and the Lamb.
In chapter 8 the last seal is opened. But ere the seven trumpet-angels can begin to call forth griefs, verses 2-5 chew that the Mediator must lay aside His intercession ere the griefs can come. The censer which in His hand carried up the prayers of saints (ver. 4) to God became, when filled with coals, from off the altar and cast to the earth, the signal of judgments come. The seven angels sound, one in each of the verses 7, 8, 10, 12, and limited judgments follow. At verse 13 it is said that the three last are woe trumpets.
These three are the fifth angel in chapter 9:1-12; Abaddon, destroyer (in Hebrew), and Apollyon, destroyer (in Greek), seem to mark the extensive range of the action here of the pit; and the sixth angel, verses 13-21; and the seventh hereafter.
All is shown thus far in heaven by the Lamb hidden in heaven; John is there too. Notice the distance from height above of the Lamb on the throne and the sphere on which the action tells, from chapter 6 to end of chapter 9. Most of it too is aggressive for the removal of what is evil, or the keeping of it in check.
But with chapter 10 the "messenger of the covenant" comes out; a mighty Messenger He. Weigh the description of Him, and see whether it is not, though under another display, the same person who appeared to John in vision in Patmos, as the Son of man of Daniel (chap. 7:7-14, 22), though with the insignia of the Ancient of days upon Him too; the same person who in Revelation v. is the Lamb in the midst of the throne and then opener of the seals; the same person who is the ONLY Mediator between God and man to offer up prayer, as found in chapter 8:3-5. This is His description: mighty angel or messenger come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, a rainbow upon His head, His face as the sun, His feet as pillars of fire. A very little roll in His hand, open; who set His right foot on the sea and His left on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars, whereon-seven thunders uttered their voices. John (who somehow was found come down to where sea and land were) was about to write, but a voice from heaven said, " Seal up the seven thunders and, utterances; write them not." And then the one standing on the sea and earth lifted up His hand to heaven, and swore by Him that lives forever and ever, the Creator of everything, that there should be no longer any delay, but in the days of the voice-of the seventh Angel, when He begins to sound, the-Mystery of God shall be completed, as declared to His servants and prophets. (Compare chaps. 11:15 and 12:10.) And the voice which I heard from heaven (query, that in Patmos and that which afterward said Come up into heaven, chapter said, Go, take the very little roll which is open in the hand of the angel standing on the sea and on-the earth. John went and said to him, " Give me the very little roll." Take it, said he, and eat it. Embitter it will thy belly, though like honey it sweetens thy mouth. John obeyed and found it so-Thou must prophesy again, said he, before many peoples, and nations. and tongues.
When the Lord said, " Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" &c. (Gen. 18:1616And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. (Genesis 18:16)), He referred to His own visit of inspection of Sodom and Gomorrah. His confidence as to Abraham..and the making him the confidant of His secrets, must have been very sweet to Abraham. But, in result, when Abraham found out what was at stake, Lot in the city threatened to be destroyed, it was -bitter. But God remembered Abraham and saved Lot out of it. When John was told he was to be the one in whom the contents of the very little roll in the hand of the Messenger (Rev. 10.) was to be deposited, that must have been very sweet; but when he came to bear testimony about the new truth he had had revealed to him, he got the full taste of bitterness. Just so it was with the apostles, the privilege of having the Lord's instructions to them was sweet, the testimony about it brought very bitterness into the inward parts. See this also in Jeremiah.
Who is there of us who has not tasted the sweetness of the truth newly recovered since the Reformation? but when that was carried out into practice, even the privilege of having the scriptures, of justification through faith, of being under the condition of "Live and do," instead of being under that of "Do and live," it led to bitterness and trial.
Have you not found the enjoyment and sweetness to yourself of truth newly brought out for to-day, say of the contents of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ? Well! sure I am, if you are trying to share it out to others, and avow you. are trying to walk in this truth (as old as John's writing is, but revived anew in these days) and to be maintained by you as bringing truth to you which you must walk in and which lays its claim over all, you will know something of the bitterness referred to. Men do not get troubled by truth that is in creeds, &c. " Everybody," say they, " knows that, and each man must have his own opinion." But when truth is drawn first from God and His book-truth, too, perhaps, that involves the condemnation by God of the ways of the professing church and of the routines down here, it leads (as it always has led) to conflict; and, if we have and walk in the Spirit of Christ, to trial of heart within us.
From this onward we shall find that the vision is as to things upon earth, such as men's senses will be able to recognize when they take place and to read according to the prophets. For they are the subjects of divine interest on earth, until the judgment of the whore, &c. (Satan's wife and city); for Christ had been supplanted in what was nominally His holy habitation and espoused, and Satan, world, and flesh are openly to be judged in the corrupted thing. Then shall come the manifested presence of the Lamb in courts above, when the espoused, having first become bride, becomes the Lamb's wife. For Christendom is not Christianity. This was the religion of Christ and of His anointing power. Christendom is man's corruption of Christianity, such as there was previous to the Reformation. How far are we escaped from it, is a solemn question.
For instance, chapter 11. In the city, where also our Lord was crucified (ver. 8), John has to take accurate notice of the state of professing religion (as men speak), of the temple, altar, and worshippers; and of the Gentiles treading down the holy city forty-two months; of two witnesses for God, with the power and acts of Elias and Moses, prophesying in sackcloth twelve hundred and sixty clays. " These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." (Ver. 4.) The wild beast from the bottomless pit slays them, to the delight of the nations, but they are called from heaven up into heaven, and ascend on a cloud in sight of their enemies, and an earthquake follows.
There is something here to take notice of as to the seventh trumpet: verse 14 states, " The second woe is past; behold, the third woe comes quickly." (This refers to chapter 8:13: " Woe, woe, woe to the dwellers on the earth, by reason of the voices, of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound." This warning, too, had been given in a way to command universal attention, even by an angel (some read an eagle) flying in mid-heaven.) " And (ver. 15) there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty-four elders which sat before God on their thrones, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, the existing one, and the was (and who art to come, or the coming one);* because thou past taken thy great power, and reigned. And the nations were wrathful, and thine anger is come, &e. And the dwelling-place of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of his covenant was seen, and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." Nothing, as it seems to me, could mark more strongly the awful state of earth, and those who in spirit were dwellers on it, than that the announcement of God's kingdom being just set up, should come out under the last woe-trumpet; nothing could mark more strongly the contrast between God's people and the citizens of this world. "Who art to come," if it stands, would mean just about to come. We get the same contrast confirmed, though in a somewhat different way, on the casting out of the heavenlies of the arch-foe and his angels (chap. 12:12); " And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.... Therefore rejoice, heavens, and ye that tabernacle in them. Woe to the earth, and to the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time."
(* The best manuscripts leave this out. The Lord is, at the time spoken of, come, and not still the one about to come.)
Let me remark also here the need which there is for you to study the ways of God. Many, from want of this, suppose that in the same moment that God takes a matter in hand, it is accomplished and ended. Whatsoever He takes in hand He is able to accomplish, and will do so, but in His own time and way. But where His word takes the form of promise, there must be hope, and patience, and suffering for us to pass through. He acts thus, and forms in us a character and ways in accordance with His own and Christ's, which Christ displayed in His life. The wild-ass character (which was ours by nature) is not the character which will do for the glory; it was not Christ's character either. In the eternal redemption and salvation, God, so to speak, never makes haste. And in which of the temporal deliverances and 'salvations did He make haste? His own word, once given, is sure. But He will accomplish it in His own way and time (the very best) to those that receive and stay themselves on it.
Chapter 12. An old nation appears anew
upon earth. Her origin was seen in heaven.* Her symbols there were according to what Joseph had dreamed. (Gen. 37:5-115And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? 11And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. (Genesis 37:5‑11).) He who is now on the throne was owned as her son and king of Israel, though the red dragon sought to destroy, him. The hosts of light, Michael and his angels, fight with the dragon and his angels, and he is cast down. (The great dragon was that old serpent, called devil and Satan, deceiver of the whole habitable earth. He is cast down with his angels. He had been in heavenly, places with his principalities and powers. For as soon as Christ was there, Intercessor, and Anchor, and Forerunner, within the veil, he must needs be there antagonistically as accuser, day and night, before God. The accuser. of " our brethren" may be the recognition of those' whom grace owned as such relatively to Christ and His heavenly saints. But they were among the victors, for the sake of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; and they had not loved their lives unto death.) He persecutes the woman and her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.
(* This portion of the word seems to me to be the acting out in a figure a counsel of God, so as to bring it vividly before the mind of John. Mary's Son, the Son of the Highest, is about to act as king of Israel.)
The scene shifts now, out of heaven to earth, to where sea and land are.
Chapter 13. A wild-beast kingdom appears, denying God as ruler over all, and as solo object of worship, and blaspheming all in heaven. Verse 11: A lamb-like beast, with two horns, comes in to assist him-an idol-maker, murderer, and forbidding to buy or sell save to those that had the mark, or name, or number of the wild beast.
Chapter 14. The Lamb appears on Mount Zion with a remnant of Israel. Beautiful and bright is this parenthesis of mercy, verses 1-5. " And I looked, and lo! the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having the name of his Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as of a great thunder: and the voice I heard of harpers, harping with their harps; and they sung a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders; no one could learn that song save the hundred and forty-four thousand bought from the earth. These are they which have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. These have been bought from among men, a first-fruit to God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found," &c.
If any one asks me, To what detail does this refer? I should answer, I know not. If any one added, Then it is no use your reading it, or my hearing it; I should reply (as lately to one), The portion is full of blessed instruction to my soul.
First of all, the Lamb is in the scene; and so, to tone espoused to Him, it must be of interest. Secondly, He is on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand of the nation who declared it would have no king but Caesar. Thirdly, (His name and) His Father's name is borne aloft by each upon his forehead. What grace, what rich love is here! Again, hark, the voice is out from heaven, loudly sounding as the sound of many waters, and of mighty thunders, yet withal the melodious, gladsome, joy of harpers harping on their harps. An unknown song is sung, but it is before the throne, and royal priesthood, and living creatures. The power to sing it is a distinctive privilege of a class redeemed from the earth. Without any mark of creature enjoyment, even of the providence of God in nature, pure, they follow the Lamb. whithersoever He goes; a kind of firstfruits from among men to God and to the Lamb; guileless they and true.
And is it not a scene (as indeed all of these) on which we shall look down from heaven when it takes dace? And we are told of it now!
The wretched elder brother, in the parable in Luke 15, was angry when he heard music, and dancing. The-returned prodigal was the subject of the joy in which Abba's heart and his slaves' joy (in having such a master) found its vent. It is selfishness to turn from such scenes; poverty in grace! not to know how to glory in the expression of the Lamb and His Father's character, because we find a scene wherein their grace outsteps the knowledge and understanding we possess. Peter, with all his prejudices against mercy to the Gentiles, and the saints of Jerusalem likewise (after they had heard of what God had wrought) preferred welcoming those that had obtained like grace with themselves to the turning from it. But,. alas! the narrow-heartedness which cannot rise-above self, to joy in the joy of others, even when Abba and the Lamb are seen blessing the undeserving. Amid the black darkness around (ver. the everlasting gospel;* verse 8, the fall of Babylon; verse 14, the Son of man, and a sickle in his hand, reaped the harvest of the earth; and, verse 17, then an angel gathers the vine of the earth for judgment.
(* The everlasting gospel is the gospel (or glad tidings), of the existence and character of God toward fallen man, apart from its form as varying according to times and dispensations. " God is and is a rewarder of them that seek him." Hebrews 11:66But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) is an instance, though the form of the glad tidings might be modified in Isaiah's or David's day from its form in Peter's or Paul's.)
Chapter 15. Seven angels, with the seven last plagues; verses 2-4, the victors over the beast stand on the sea of glass before God, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb! How blessed! And what of the song of Moses and the Lamb?' Ere the seven angels who had the seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God, emptied out their vials, John writes:
I saw a glass sea, mingled with fire, and those-who were overcomers of the wild beast and its, image, and the number of its name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses, servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and wonderful are thy works, Jehovah Elohim Shaddai righteous and true are thy ways, 0 King of nations [the best manuscripts read nations, and not. saints]. Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy? for all nations shall come and worship thee, for thy righteousnesses have been made manifest."
The sea in the temple was for cleansing and purity; the one here, being: of glass, spewed that it was fixed and abiding, mingled with fire, as expressing judicial trials. But the victorious over-comers of the wild beast, blasphemer of God, as king and object of worship, had their stand upon it-and harps, and they sung the song of Moses,, the servant, who brought Israel triumphantly with, the outstretched arm of Jehovah (see Ex. 15.) and of the Lamb, who, through His own obedience unto death, and His resurrection, was the author of eternal redemption and salvation. Wonder-struck with the works and ways of Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, King of nations, to be feared and glorified; as holy; for all nations should come and worship before Him, they sing.
Subjection to God, patience, and God's power, will work temporal deliverances even in that time. But for eternal redemption and salvation, when the arch-foe's power is filling the wild beast, the death and resurrection of the Lamb are needed for victory. It may be that both millennial and eternal `blessing are present to the minds of these over—comers who have, through fire, gotten their rest where the purity of God will be their safe rest.
Chapter 16. The seven vials of God's wrath, verses 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12 (the Euphrates, and the three unclean, frog-like spirits out of the mouths of the dragon, and of the beast, and of the false prophet, &c.); verse 17, it is done, &c.
Next comes Babylon's destiny. What is Babylon? is a question common enough. I would say „a few words upon it, according to the measure Of my light. The city and tower built in the plain of Shinar, where the Lord confounded their language, and scattered them abroad, were the first things called Babel, or confusion. (Gen. 11:1-91And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1‑9).) The confusion in their conduct was in the pride which. led them to seek to make themselves a name, and to make a center for themselves on earth, mistrusting God, lest they should be scattered. Their speech confounded, they were scattered.
Nebuchadnezzar's strange confusion of mind and actions, when God had raised him up, and set him in supreme power above Israel, is easily seen in Daniel 1-4, and his confounding, in chapter 5:18-21.
But in the Revelation Babylon is, to the system in connection with which it is found, as Babylon of Daniel was to the system in connection with which it stood. The church found in the Apocalypse as the bride and wife of the Lamb, is also looked at as the city of habitation of God and the Lamb. Babylon also is previously looked upon as a corrupt, lascivious woman, and as a city of habitation. That it will have in the end a connection with the nations on earth, which, until overthrown, will do what they can to hinder Jerusalem and Israel, is clear to anyone reading chapters 17 and 18. But, as I judge, these hindrances will be from that in which Christendom results, after that which is Christianity ceases to be on earth. " Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (chap. 18:4), is to be noted. Christianity broke down ere Paul died (see 2 Tim.), &c. The evil of Christendom appeared very early (just as did the sins of Israel in the calf), even in apostolic days. This was in mercy, for it enabled God to give us, through Peter, James, Jude, Paul, and John, instruction for ourselves as to the evil. In Christianity, the church which was in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, dwelt in spirit in heaven, and walked in the Holy Spirit down here as Christ had walked.
The most fruitful and least suspected root of evil corruption, was in confusing civil power in the, world (that is, Caesar not bearing the sword in vain), and the power in the church (that is, Christ acting in the church, through faith and the Holy Spirit). The systems are two, and not one: government of God on earth, and Caesar the ruler, on the one hand; and, on the other, worship of God in heaven, and the Holy Spirit, the vicar of Christ, among the heavenly saints down here. The nominal church became worldly and selfish, and. claimed the world; but Constantine came in with imperial power, and (though Pontifex, chief priest of heathenism) took the place of being head of the bishops and the church. The bishops watched their time, and got for themselves and their world-church the upper places in the world. Their language-then became, " I sit a queen, and am no widow (which she should have been, 1 Tim. 5:5, 65Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. 6But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. (1 Timothy 5:5‑6)), and shall see no sorrow." (Rev. 18:77How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. (Revelation 18:7).) This went on till the Reformation, when kings and princes threw off the tyranny, and professed to become " nursing fathers" to the church. These are facts, at all events; and as results have told out through centuries the ruin of the professing church. Civil power is of God, for time and on the earth. Christ. set up at Pentecost a church for eternity and heaven; and therefore, as it had commenced, it was to be now (that is, in time) that which lived in heaven. To blend, or try to blend, the two distinct and opposite things in one, was to make a new system, and a system of confusion. The Greek and Roman churches apply Babylon to 'all that is not of themselves; for instance, to all sects and heresies, and to Protestantism, with its subdivisions innumerable. Protestants return the compliment, and apply Babylon to the Romish church. I dare do neither. But of this I am sure, that the so-called religion of 1876 is part of Christendom, and is not of Christianity; if so be that this was formed through Peter, and Paul, and John, and is described by them in the scriptures written since Pentecost. " The church" now is an honorable profession in the world, doomed by the word of God to be destroyed. But the principles, as given by God, and a heavenly people to be formed by Him for the new Jerusalem as city and bride have not dropped out of His mind; and if the professing church and the churches have become worldly, sensual, and devilish, there are yet those as individuals who are victors and over-comers, who walk with God, and are led by Him to own, and seek to act upon, all the principles of -truth, as laid down through Peter, and John, and Paul. And I beseech you, be you, beloved hearers, among the number of such.
Who of you, my hearers, could tell me, What is the last link with the world which you severed? or what was the last piece of the world which you gave up?
In chapter 17 we have Babylon as the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and her judgment as a woman.
In chapter 18 her judgment as a city; the lament of kings, merchants, &c., small and great on the earth; but (ver. 20 onwards) as subject of joy to apostles and prophets and to the mind of heaven.
Immediately upon her fall we have chapter xix. praise for her judgment, " I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Alleluia (praise ye Jah!), salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God, for true 'and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and bath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." (Vers. 1, 2.)
And verse 3, a second time they (in heaven) said Alleluia; and her smoke rose up forever and ever.
Then verse 4, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures take their distinctive parts,. and fall down and worship God, who sat on the throne, saying, Amen, Alleluia.
Next verse 5, a voice came out of the throne " Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great."
And then, responsive, the voice of a great multitude (ver. 6), adding to their praise for the judgment on the whore and those corrupted by her. Two other subjects of joy. First, "For the Lord God Almighty has taken to himself the kingly power," (this underlays the judgment); and, secondly, the second part of this (His actual reigning): " Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him, for-the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife-has made herself ready." (Ver. 7.)
What words are these? " The Lamb and his wife* who has made herself ready!” Once (as now) the espoused; at His coming the bride expectant; and then, in the scene before us, owned as His wife. With what severity of simplicity as to attire is hers when thus looked at, as about to be presented to Himself by the Lord. Habited according to Himself, such then His taste for her; and her taste for His sake. " And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints."
(* The Lord Jesus Christ's first public action after He had ascended up on high and sat clown, was the call of the church by the preaching of Peter and John, through and with the power of the Holy Spirit sent down at Pentecost.. His last action, ere He comes forth from heaven, as here given, is His marriage with the church, she become the Lamb's wife.)
As the city she will have what is glorious to-those below, and to those around her, but as the wife how severely chaste her dress, and how it tells out His mind
The marriage supper of the Lamb* is announced and the blessedness of all called there as guests.** These are the true sayings of God: let God be true and every man a liar, is what John (in his simplicity, in which even then he would ignorantly have worshipped an angel, and we in our condition still lower than he) may well say, each for himself. Poor things! to be so blessed already in Him and to have such prospects securely ours for hereafter: yes, securely our own. For these are the true sayings of God. Amen and Amen.
(* Strange contrast with the supper of the great God. (Ver. 17.))
(** Guests? who are they? The resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4 and the rapture includes more than the church. And, again, Enoch and Elias were translated without seeing death. Abraham and David had promises made to them, and not yet fulfilled; as it is written, "that they without us were not to be made perfect." (Heb. 11:4040God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:40).) We should neither attempt to explain what we do not know, by limiting scripture to what we do know; nor stand in doubt of what we have been taught of God, because (blessed be His name) He has much more to teach us.)
To close-the outline of this second section of the book seems to me to be very simple. It is about the Lamb in the throne in Heaven and His servant in spirit in heaven too. First the Lamb is hidden in the throne. (chap. 4.) Then chapter 5. He is displayed in it, and takes the place of communicating to His servants things about to come to pass: namely, first the checks to sinful men on earth and displays of mercy in the midst of judgment, and repressive actings as to evil, chapters 6 to 9. With chapter 10 more light is given, for His servant has a testimony to render. And chapter 11 the state of religious profession on earth in the Holy Land, and the wickedness of the Gentiles come out to light. In chapter 12 how a nation, known of old but which had ceased to have a land, is suddenly found again. The twelve tribes -whence come they? In chapter 13 a wild beast kingdom and a false prophet are in open and avowed opposition to God and His rights. Chapter 14, 15 tell of mercy (and, through it of victory) amid judgments. In chapter 16 we have warnings; and in chapters 17, 18 judgments on the whore and city of the earth. And in chapter 19 the joy of heaven and the marriage of the Lamb.
Plainly, we His people shall be with Him, the seal and witness of His love. We shall have Himself in courts above, win Him when the outside circle of wickedness is broken, and ere the heads of evil are removed.
Hearers! may I ask what principle is now regulating your lives? How clear is the golden thread of God's purposes and plans about Christ! But are we walking according to them. Could I, could you, be in the company of a Peter, a John, a, Paul, as they were when on earth, without any fear of being as a speckled bird in their society? Can you heartily invite Christ to come? Would the life you are leading amalgamate with His in the glory, and if He came to-night would naught cease but the difficulties with which you are in conflict? If so, you can say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.