Remarks on the Revelation: Part 5

Revelation  •  16 min. read  •  grade level: 10
It is remarkable that the temple in heaven is only thrice mentioned in the revelation to John previous to the opening of the seventh seal, which is the commencement of sorrow to the earth; the three references are (chap. 3: 12), “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out;” and (chap. 6: 9) under the fifth seal, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were beheaded,” &c., and (chap 7:15) in his temple shall dwell the innumerable multitude. This seems remarkable, because during the sorrows and woes of the trumpets the temple holds so very prominent a place. Thus first, in chapter viii., immediately after the opening of the seventh seal, an angel stands at the altar which was before the throne with a censer; and, when his work is done, the seven angels begin to sound; secondly, chapter 9, on the sixth angel sounding a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God, saying, &c.; then thirdly, in chapter 11, we have the temple of God (ver. 1), and the temple of God was opened in heaven, &c. (ver. 19); again, fourthly, chapter xiv., as to the harvest and vintage of the earth, we have three angels coming forth severally out of the temple (ver. 15); out of the temple which is in heaven (ver. 17); from the altar (ver. 18); fifthly, chapter xv. 5, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened (ver. 6), another angel comes out of the temple with the plagues, and (ver. 8) the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power, and no man was able to enter into the temple; and, sixthly, from the same place, chapter 16, a great voice proclaims it is done. (Ver. 17.)
No one reading these contexts can doubt that one of the objects, in the prominent place given therein to the temple, is to identify the actions with the divine glory, and to show that they are more than the actions of God simply as Lord God Almighty upon the throne; though that throne is, in these passages, shown to be in the temple. They are the actions of God, as God, in the Divine glory, and showing Himself thus to be the object of worship, though still, through His emissaries, the Over-ruler of all things likewise. Till the close of chapter 7, the Lamb is upon the throne; and so far the throne, as the seat of the government of one whose glory was, through grace, then fully to be known, stands without mention of the temple, and He that is there is seen as the door of everything; but no sooner is the innumerable multitude from among all nations, &c., brought to be in the temple than the throne seems hidden in it, and the actions which follow are seen only in connection with the emissaries of the throne. And this is just as one would have supposed; for every member of the heavenly calling has full access to God, and they are the objects of the former portion; the 144,000 from Israel are the objects of divine regard during the latter parts, and their standing and privileges are different and lower, and God's dealings to them more intermediate, through angels; and the definite action not openly presented and distinctly described as to us, but set forth in figure and symbols and parables. On this account I think that it is likely that while up to chapter 12 all has been literal and no symbol used, henceforth, onward, till the partakers of the heavenly calling again become involved as the object of action, the description may run in symbol altogether.
In approaching now to the consideration of the trumpets, I would notice one or two general principles connected with the study of truth: our power of understanding scripture consists in the mind and Spirit of Christ, which we, as sons of God, have. The new creation in us has the mind of God, and to it the Spirit, searching all things, yea, the deep things of God, communicates, as He will. Nevertheless it is the written word wherein these deep things are found. This I believe to be of great importance, as showing the hindrance which knowledge (as men count it), gained by observation of present circumstances and experience, the study of history or works of man, may be—if not all tested by accordance with the written word. For instance, in approaching the subject of the seven trumpets, we come with heads full of notions about trumpets, derived partly from the modern every-day use of them, partly from the study of profane history, and it may be partly from books of the customs and manners of oriental nations. Now just so far as these thoughts are different from the thoughts which would be formed in the mind of any simple child of God by the Spirit, in passing through His own mention of trumpets in the written word, just so far, I say, should we come to the subject with a false medium of communication. I would it were more our habit than it is, to trace out with patience and humility the Holy Ghost's use of words and things ere pronouncing what we believe to be the mind of the Lord on any point. To my own mind, in nature there is nothing more in a trumpet than the idea of “a suitable means of drawing public attention in concourses of people,” —it might thus lead me in thought to warfare, or the field of battle, or the presence of an earthly monarch; but so habituated am I to the sound of it in mere daily life, that these things would be rather the results of thought upon the subject than first impressions; and certainly the highest to which thought in nature would lead me. Par otherwise are the thoughts awakened by “the trumpet” to the mind which comes fresh from the study of the word.
The first trumpet was divine, announcing the presence of divine Majesty. To the holy priesthood the trumpet was given in Israel as an ordinance of the Lord, and none, either in the camp or the court, blew it but the priests;1 for it was a call to God. The day of the blowing of trumpets ushered in that great feast of tabernacles, the type of better things yet to come; and when the blast was heard on the great day of atonement it was the immediate precursor of the jubilee of Israel and the land. Joshua and Gideon also can tell us terrible yet glorious things of the trumpet; and who knows David, or Solomon, the then tabernacle, or the temple, and not the trumpets?
Let us see this and so establish our general principle, once for all, by rapidly glancing at the scriptures which mention the trumpets.
The first place in scripture in which we meet with “the trumpet,” is in Ex. 19 It is here introduced to us as “The herald of the presence of the divine Majesty,” when Jehovah formally displayed His glory to the people whom He had chosen to Himself to be their king, upon the top of mount Sinai: (ver. 13) “when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come to the mount.” “And (ver. 16) there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” “And (ver. 19) when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice,” “And (chap. 20: 18) all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Here evidently the trumpet was God's.
Of the three great feasts annually kept by Israel, one only was ushered in with the blowing of trumpets (Lev. 23:2424Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24)), “In the seventh month, in the first of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.” This (called by some “the feast of trumpets") was followed on the tenth day of the month by the great day of atonement (ver. 27), and on the fifteenth by the feast of tabernacles. (Ver. 34.) This first day of the seventh month is thus distinguished, Num. 29:11And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. (Numbers 29:1): “it is a day of blowing of trumpets to you.”
But besides this “day of blowing, of trumpets,” there was the trumpet of jubilee, and this upon the great day of atonement. After every forty and nine years (Lev. 25:99Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. (Leviticus 25:9)), “then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you.” A year of rest and joy was this to the land and to its inhabitants—when the alienation of property ended, and every man returned to his own possession.
In Num. 10:2-102Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:2‑10), we have the more general orders about the trumpets. There were to be two silver trumpets, of a whole piece, for the calling of the assembly and the journeying of the camps.
When both were blown, the assembly was to meet Moses at the door of the congregation; when one only, then the princes, even the heads of the thousands of Israel.
If one alarm was blown, the camps eastward were to set forward.
If a second, then the camp southward.
The sons of Aaron—the priests—were to blow. And it was promised that on war in the land, God would, on the alarm being sounded, remember and save them from their enemies. “Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt-offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings, that they may not be to you a memorial before your God.” And in chapter 31:6 we find Moses sending Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpet to blow, in his hand.
The new trumpets and the wonderful purpose the Lord put them to, connected with the capture of Jericho, may well claim our attention next.—(Josh. 6) When Jericho was straitly shut up by the children of Israel, the Lord said to Joshua, “Compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about it once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout: and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him.” And so it was, but, as if to impress this upon our souls, we have not only this detailed order given, but the whole repeated over again by Joshua to the people, and the account of how they carried it into execution, given in full detail, and the success that followed; just as if the Spirit had found peculiar pleasure in resting the minds of those He would teach upon the ways of that God with whom we have to do.
The next use of the trumpet we find by the judges through whom God delivered Israel from the enemies, whom their unbelief left to be lords in the land. Thus we have Ehud (Judg. 3:2727And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them. (Judges 3:27)), after nobly slaying with his own hand Eglon king of Moab who had oppressed Israel eighteen years, blowing a trumpet in mount Ephraim; and then they went down and slew ten thousand Moabites, and subdued Moab that day.
So again, chapter 6: 34, when Midian and Amalek came against Israel,” the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.” And the Lord chose three hundred men out of the thirty-two thousand who were gathered, and to these he gave the victory. For Gideon divided them into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites, and all the children of the east, lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number as the sand by the sea shore for multitude. And Gideon and the one hundred men that were with him came unto the outside of the camp; and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and the three companies blew the trumpets and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right bands to blow; and they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host. And there was victory. In 1 Sam. 13:33And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. (1 Samuel 13:3) we have Saul blowing the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. The rest of the chapter would lead one to suppose that this also was in self-will
And we have Joab blowing the trumpet, as in 2 Sam. 2:2828So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more. (2 Samuel 2:28), and then “all the people [of Judah] stood still, and pursued after Israel no more,” neither fought they any more.
Again, chapter 18:16: and then “the people returned from pursuing after Israel.”
And again, chapter 20: 22: and then “they retired from the city, every man to his tent.” In these three cases, as in that of Sheba, chapter 20: 1—when every man of Israel went back up after David, and followed Sheba—it was the signal of retreat.
And the priests also, in the movement from the house of Obed-edom (1 Chron. 15:2424And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obed-edom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark. (1 Chronicles 15:24)), blew the trumpets; and (as we see, chap. 16: 6, 42) their use of the trumpet was in the arrangements of David for the ark fully recognized; as indeed yet more fully in the temple (as we see, 2 Chron. 5:12, 13; 7:6; 29:26, 27, 2812Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) 13It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; (2 Chronicles 5:12‑13)
6And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood. (2 Chronicles 7:6)
26And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. 28And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. (2 Chronicles 29:26‑28)
, and in 13:12, 14): we have their place thus in the battle recognized.
It was thus also that Solomon was proclaimed, 1 Kings 1:3939And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. (1 Kings 1:39), for “Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon!”
In the prophets generally the trumpet is used simply as connected with war, as Jeremiah expresses it (chap. 4: 18): “Thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” Yet there are a few passages calculated to leave a very strong impression upon the mind, as (Isa. 27:1313And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)): “It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Again (Zech. 9:1414And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. (Zechariah 9:14)), “And the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.”
We may refer also to Matt. 24:3131And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31): “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other.”
1 Cor. 15:5252In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52), “At the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Thess. 4:1616For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (1 Thessalonians 4:16), “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” And be it remembered that when the Lord appears to John in Rev. 1, His voice was as a trumpet (ver. 10); and the same voice as it were of a great trumpet called him up (chap. 4: 1) to heaven.” With these thoughts let us proceed.
Chapter viii. 7, First Angel.—Hail is the symbol of wrath (Ex. 9:18-33; 10:5-1518Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the Lord; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord's. 30But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord God. 31And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. 32But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. (Exodus 9:18‑33)
5And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. 7And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go? 9And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the Lord. 10And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. 12And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. 13And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:5‑15)
; Psa. 78:47; 105:32; 148:847He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. (Psalm 78:47)
32He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land. (Psalm 105:32)
8Fire, and hail; snow, and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling his word: (Psalm 148:8)
; Isa. 28:2, 172Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. (Isaiah 28:2)
17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28:17)
; Hag. 2:1717I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. (Haggai 2:17)), fire of “discernment” or judgment, blood of condemnation. Trees and grass are the more simple and natural means of life to man and beast: for the former see Gen. 1:29; 2:929And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (Genesis 1:29)
9And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
; Deut. 20:1919When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege: (Deuteronomy 20:19); for the latter, Gen. 1:11, 1211And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11‑12); Deut. 11:1515And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. (Deuteronomy 11:15); Psa. 104:1414He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; (Psalm 104:14) and 106: 20.
The presence of God having been announced by the trumpet, heaven-sent judgments follow. They are partly natural, as hail and fire, and partly above the course of nature, as blood. And they come, not on the unformed mass of nations (as the results of the next trumpet), but upon that which stands before God as “the earth,” —the place in which His testimony has been, perhaps; and there they destroy all the more simple and natural ways and means of support.
(Continued from page 160.)