Part One: Judgment (chapters 15-19)

Chapter XV
The Judgment Of Babylon

Revelation 17, 18
Introductory

We are not able to resist the conclusion that there is a double destruction before our eyes in these two chapters.

1. The overthrow of the woman in chapter 17 is accomplished by the Beast and his ten kings.

2. The Beast and his ten kings are being at the time adulated by the earth, the Beast himself universally worshipped (except by God’s elect). All the kings and powers of the earth are subject to him, as we saw in chapter 13.

3. The Beast, his kings, and of course the whole earth with them, join in the destruction of the harlot, whom we see at the beginning of chapter 17 riding the revived Roman Beast.

4. Evidently Romanism, with its situation on the seven hills of Rome, is indicated by this woman, “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” The whole earth, with its kings, is delighted at the removal of the last vestige of this hateful harlot, who really has been a burden, spiritual, mental, political, and financial, to all the nations over which she has held sway; although they committed spiritual “fornication” with her: that is, she pronounced them “Christian,” and they gave her money and “reverence.”

5. But in chapter 18 everything is reversed. While the destroying of the drunken harlot, “mystery Babylon,” was a delight and a relief to all the earth, the overthrow of the great city Babylon in chapter 18 is exactly the opposite. The kings of the earth wail and lament over the smoke of her burning!

6. Instead of being an external directress of the last empire, the Babylon of chapter 18 is the beloved capital of the whole earth’s activities, and for this cause men mourn her overthrow.

7. The Beast and his ten kings could not have destroyed the harlot in “one hour”; but such is declared to be the suddenness of the doom of the great city of chapter 18. “One day,” and “one hour,” God says.

8. That which characterized the iniquity of the harlot was the martyrdom of God’s saints, and especially of the witnesses of Jesus; but the character of the iniquity of the city overthrown in chapter 18 is that of a godless, luxurious commercialism, making “merchant princes” of those dealing with her. Roman Catholicism, as a system, has never enriched the nations of the earth, but rather the contrary. Witness the late rebellions against Rome’s arrogating to herself, free from taxes, vast parts of the territories of such lands as Mexico and Spain. At the height of her power over the European nations, in the days of Hildebrand, Gregory VII, in the eleventh century, we see the spirit of the harlot who rides the Beast in chapter 17. The Emperor Henry IV of Germany and his whole people are excommunicated, for disregard of a papal decree; and the Emperor must stand in the cold three days in Italy, waiting on the proud Pope’s arrogance, before he is “forgiven.” No wonder that when the world gets loose by divine permission from the restraints of conscience toward the name of the Father and the Son under Antichrist’s blasphemies (which holy names the “harlot” has had to use) they rush in hate to destroy this hideous religious tyranny from the face of the earth! But, on the exact contrary, the kings of the earth and their subjects weep and wail in bitter mourning over the destruction of the great city of Babylon of chapter 18.

9. The manner of the final overthrow of Babylon, as described in Revelation 18 and in the Old Testament prophets, forbids us to conclude that the destruction of the papacy is there contemplated, and proves that it is rather a sudden, direct visitation of God. In Jeremiah 51:25, 26, Jehovah speaks: “I … will make thee a burnt mountain. And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith Jehovah.” Again in Jeremiah 51:8 “Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed.”

Now Cyrus captured Babylon (about B. C. 540) on the night of Belshazzar’s great feast of Daniel 5, but it was not at that time “destroyed.” In fact, many in the city did not know for two or three days that the city had been taken! Babylon became a provincial capital in the Persian Empire. In the third empire, that of Alexander the Great, we find that it was a place much loved and delighted in by the great conqueror, who indeed drank himself to death there.

Peter wrote his first epistle from Babylon—(1 Peter 5:13). At the end of the fifth century, the “Babylonian Talmud” was issued by the Jews of Babylon, who had several universities there. It seems to have been a center of activity of this exiled race. In the tenth century Babylon is again mentioned as still in existence; and 200 years later it has grown considerably. It was afterwards further increased, and was called Hillah, as at present. Over 10,000 people were there thirty years ago. The town is constructed of the bricks of ancient Babylon.

Therefore, it appears impossible that the great prophecies concerning Babylon’s final overthrow, whether in the Old Testament or in Revelation 18 have been finally fulfilled. For instance, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there” (Isaiah 13:19, 20).

Again, “It shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith Jehovah, so shall no man dwell there, neither shall any son of man sojourn therein” (Jeremiah 50:39, 40). And in Revelation 18:21-23, “Babylon, the great city, (shall) be cast down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers and minstrels and flute-players and trumpeters … no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft, … any more at all in thee; and the voice of a mill … no more at all in thee; and the light of a lamp … no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride … no more at all.”

Here is utter desolation, and it is accomplished according to 18:19, in one hour. “In one hour is she made desolate.” Verse 17, “In one hour so great riches is made desolate.” “In one hour is thy judgment come,” we read in verse 10. The horror of her overthrow is “as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah”—it is so fearful! In verse 9, “The kings of the earth … when they look upon the smoke of her burning” stood “afar off for the fear of her torment”; and in verse 15, the merchants of all luxuries (29 being specified) “stand afar off for the fear of her torment.” Again, in verse 17, “every shipmaster, and everyone that saileth any whither, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by sea, stood afar off, and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning.”

We are reminded of Abraham’s gazing upon Sodom’s destruction (which Babylon’s final overthrow will equal): “And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Jehovah: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:27, 28). (Abraham, thank God, was already “afar off” from that burning, for he lived twenty miles away, up in the Hebron mountain with God!)

10. There remains this solemn fact: that there is a great commercial metropolis overthrown by God in Revelation 18, and that in connection with the seventh bowl of wrath, immediately preceding our Lord’s second coming (Revelation 16:19; 19:11, ff.). (Now the harlot was destroyed at least three years before, when the Beast and his ten kings began their power!) We read in connection with Babylon’s overthrow as described in Isaiah 13: “Wail ye; for the day of Jehovah is at hand; as destruction from the Almighty shall it come … For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine … And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (verses 6, 10, 19).

Now, it matters not that in verse 17 of this chapter, God mentions the invasion by the Medes, for it is the common method of prophecy to look upon some event for a moment, and then see through it, as in a dissolving view, the greater event of which it was merely a type. For instance, in Zechariah 9:9 our Lord is seen riding into Jerusalem upon a lowly ass and its foal, but verse 10 goes on, without explanation of what intervenes, to say, “And he shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”—which is at His second coming!

11. When the final destruction of Babylon, the literal city, was prophesied by Jeremiah, we find God’s solemn warning to His people to flee from it: “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save every man his life; be not cut off in her inquity: for it is the time of Jehovah’s vengeance … My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and save yourselves every man from the fierce anger of Jehovah” (51:6, 45).

Now note that Jeremiah could not have been prophesying of the mystical or papal Babylon; for “the mystery of iniquity” did not then exist; but Babylon the city was the avowed enemy of Jehovah’s nation Israel. Again, mark carefully that when Cyrus took Babylon, neither Daniel, who that night prophesied to Belshazzar the end of his kingdom, nor the other Jews, fled from Babylon! As a matter of fact, Daniel was immediately elevated to the triumvirate of presidents under Darius the Median, who received the kingdom at the hand of the conqueror, Cyrus. But these prophecies of Jeremiah accord perfectly with the voice from heaven of Revela- tion 18:4, “Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” If the city of Babylon is restored as Antichrist’s capital, at the end of this age, godly Jews will be warned fully to flee, as in Jeremiah 51:45, 46, 50.

12. We are forced then, to the conclusion, that the overthrow of Babylon, as the revealed center of inquitous luxury and Satan-worship, the culmination of man’s glory, lies yet in the future, in the land of Shinar, where Babylon’s history began! The vision of the ephah of Zechariah 5 corroborates overwhelmingly the thought of the revival of commercial Babylon. A woman, called Wickedness, is seen sitting in an ephah measure, covered with a round piece of lead. (An ephah would be, to a Jew, a perfect symbol of commerce.) Two women with “wings of a stork” (an unclean bird to Israel—Leviticus 11:19) bear this ephah away “between earth and heaven.” The prophet asks the revealing angel, “Whither do these bear the ephah?” And the significant answer is, “To build her a house in the land of Shinar: and when it is prepared, she shall be set there in her own place.” What could such a vision portray, if not the final concentrating of wickedness in a great center which should reach the whole earth? Direct rebellion against God, in a new, and astounding, and organized way, began in that very land of Shinar, and it will complete its cycle and come back for judgment to that same place!

Whatever dark, persecuting history the harlot woman sitting on the Beast has been guilty of; and even if, as is very probable, she represents all false worship since the Flood: doctrines which, pretending to teach worship of God, have led men into the depths of uncleanness of idolatry; this much is certain: the harlot represents the mystery of iniquity, and the Beast, manifest iniquity. The harlot does not “deny all that is called God or that is worshipped”; the Beast does this very thing.

Furthermore, the harlot does not partake of the fearful bowls of wrath poured by God upon the Beast wor- shippers (Revelation 16). The two principles of iniquity-are distinct and diverse, and must be kept so in our minds. All false religions tell the consciences of their devotees that they are serving a god, or gods. This iniquity, of course, is headed up by Romanism. But the fearful character of the Beast’s career is that he directs the worship of the whole world to himself, in order to make them conscious Devil-worshippers (Revelation 13). They are no longer deceived, as to whom they worship: they are enlightened with darkness! Even the majority of the Jewish nation, having made their seven-year contract with Antichrist, cry confidently: “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves” (Isaiah 28:15).

In order for this fearful program of Satan-worship to prevail without hindrance, there must be removed from the earth three things: first, the true Church, the Bride of Christ; second, apostate Christendom, represented by the harlot, which, however much she lacks the spirit, keeps the names of Christian things; and, third, the nation of Israel. God removes the first; the Beast and his ten kings destroy the second; while Armageddon is the final, supreme Satanic effort to obliterate the third—Israel—from the earth.

The Judgment of Mystic Babylon
Revelation 17

OUTLINE:

      I. The vision of the woman on the scarlet beast (verses 1-6).

        1. It is the judgment of the harlot which is to be revealed in this chapter.

        2. Her dealings with:

          a. The kings of the earth—“fornication.”

          b. The earth-dwellers—making them “drunken.”

        3. Her position on the Roman beast, now become fully blasphemous.

        4. Her luxurious attire and her abominable cup.

        5. Her mystic name: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of the harlots and of the abominations.”

        6. Her blood—drunken state.

      II. The unfolding, or interpretation of the vision as to the woman and the Beast (verses 7, 8).

        1. The Beast.

          a. The Beast is a man (Revelation 13:18). (Though the Beast is the Roman Empire, that Empire with its iniquity full, is seen in its head, the Beast.)

          b. He had had a former history on earth: “He was.”

          c. He was not then on earth: “And is not.”

          d. He is to have a future history: “to come up out of the abyss” (where he was in John’s day—the jail of lost human beings in the center of the earth).

          e. He will go thence directly into the lake of fire: “into perdition” (Revelation 19:20).

          f. He will cause astonishment among the non-elect of those days, because of their knowledge that he was once on earth and disappeared and shall return: “he was, and is not, and shall come.”

        2. The Woman.

          a. The woman is a city.

          b. She is Rome (see below).

          c. She will be “hated” by the Beast and his ten kings.

          d. She will be utterly destroyed by them.

      III. The great double interpretation (for “the mind that hath wisdom”).

        1. The seven heads of the Beast represent seven mountains.

          a. These are the “seven hills” of literal Rome: (for prophecy at the end-time deals with the fourth world-power, Rome; and every reader knows that both pagan
          and Christian writers call Rome the seven-hilled city).

          b. In this application, the woman “sits” on those mountains: she is the Babylonian system, transferred to Rome by Attalus III of Pergamos—itself a colony from Babylonia—in B. C. 133.

          c. The Woman “is the great city, which hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth” (verse 18). (The present tense “hath a kingdom” must indicate Rome: for Rome alone was ruling the earth in John’s day: “many waters” where she sits are said to be “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”)

        2. The seven heads also represent seven Roman emperors.

          a. That these are Roman emperors is shown by the words “the one is”—that is, in John’s day.

          b. Five had “fallen”: (fallen probably indicating a violent death—see Govett, Apocalypse, p. 445, 446).107

          c. “The other” the seventh, was not yet come in John’s day: he was to come and to “continue a little while.” (The spirit of the passage indicates that this seventh will be as really Roman as any of the others: either reviving the Roman Empire or its spirit—as Mussolini is attempting to do!)

          d. The Beast himself will be an eighth but will be also “of the seven.” (This involves his release from the abyss in the center of the earth, the present prison of the lost spirits; and such release is affirmed of him in Revelation 17 and 13:3 and 14. Which of “the seven” he will be, God does not tell.)

      IV. The ten kings (not kingdoms) represented by the ten horns.

        1. They had not received “kingdom” in John’s day.

        2. They are to receive authority (exousia) along with the Beast (not till then) for “one hour” (the word hour here denotes a time of special character, or activity: as in Luke 22:53).

        3. The committal to the Beast of their power and authority—by divine ruling. (Like Alexander’s and Napoleon’s generals, they come, with their leader, into sudden power, and their transfer of all to the Beast seems as speedy as it is unanimous.)

        4. Their union with the Beast, the Antichrist, in the utter desolation (because of their absolute hatred) of the harlot. (This will be the end absolutely, finally, of Babylon in mystery. It is the complete destruction of the papal harlot, and of all earthly forms of worship except adoration of the Beast, and through him of Satan, openly—13:8.)

        5. Their final, fearful presumption: Armageddon—“war against the Lamb” (See Revelation 19:19-21 for the outcome!)

What Babylon Is

1. Babylon is a literal city on the Euphrates River, with a form of idolatrous worship which began almost immediately after the Flood, in the days of Nimrod, and extended throughout the whole earth. We find this first form of Babylon opposed to God’s people Israel. Babylon is Satan’s capital, just as Jerusalem is God’s capital, and we find this first Babylon was permitted under Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and its temple.

2. Babylon, next, is the same system in another city—Rome, and opposing the same idolatrous system to God’s saints of the Church age:—a monstrous system of evil doctrine that unites the church with the world.

3. The final form of Babylon is the literal city on the Euphrates, rebuilt as Antichrist’s capital of the last days, opposing Israel as God’s earthly people who will have gathered back to their land (the Church of course, having been raptured), and opposing Jehovah’s worship with the most powerful and enslaving form of idolatry that the world has ever known—the worship of the Beast and his image!

Let us get well fixed in our minds these three phases of Babylon the Great.

And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls, and spake with me, say- ing, Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and they that dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her fornication.

Let us first remark that the meaning of this vision, whether important or not to us, is terribly distinct in the mind of the Spirit—this great harlot! She is called “the great harlot” in verse 1; “the harlot” in verses 15 and 16; “the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth” in verse 5; and “the woman” six times, in this chapter. We do not well if our perception be dim of an existence so supremely hateful to God. Forty times the pronouns “she,” “her,” “thy,” and “thee,” are crowded into this divinely indignant record of the judgment of the great harlot.108

Now it is one of the seven angels that had the bowls of wrath of chapter 16 who comes to show John this judgment; as also in striking contrast, one of these seven in 21:9 leads the Seer to the vision of the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Constantly remember that Revelation 17 and 18 is not a history of Babylon, but the record of its judgment. We see this harlot “sitteth upon many waters,” which in verse 15, is said to represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”—terrible mass-words of the hordes of idolatry of the last days, ending with tongues, which reminds us at once of Babel!

With this monstrous harlot, the “kings of the earth” are said to have “committed fornication,” and the inhabitants of the earth were drunk with the wine of her fornication. Here then is a world-wide influence from the rulers down to the lowest subject which can only be spoken of by God by this awful word “fornication.”

We must, as is usual in The Revelation, go to the Old Testament to find the roots of the meanings of the terms used. God arraigns Israel in the prophets over and over for “playing the harlot,” “committing adultery,” and “whoredom.” In Jeremiah 3:2, 3, 9:

“Thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness … thou hadst a harlot’s forehead, thou refusest to be ashamed… Through the lightness of her whoredom that the land was polluted and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks.”

No one who will take the trouble to read Ezekiel 16 and 23 can fail to understand God’s plain language. In these two chapters of Ezekiel alone, whoredom is mentioned over twenty times, as describing the sin before God of those who turn His worship into shameless fellowship with demons and commerce with the world! It must be remembered that God is love; that He has always been as He is now, and is jealous toward those who, having a revelation from Him, turn from Him to that world which is controlled by His deadly enemy Satan; for “the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God.”

Religious sin, therefore, is especially in view in this great harlot of Revelation 17. It is Satan’s religious system controlling men by such doctrines as will salve and quiet their consciences, while suffering them to walk in their natural lusts. This “wine” the whole world has greedily drunk, and is by it drunken! Men love their lusts, but their consciences must be appeased that they may follow their lusts unrestrainedly. This, “mystery Babylon,” by her insidious and finally shameless teachings, supplies; so that Satan’s system, promulgated originally at Babylon, finally controls the whole world!109

If we make “mystery Babylon” mean only Roman Catholicism, we have to explain:

First: Why the same manner of language is used in the Old Testament prophets against Babylon as is used in The Revelation (compare, for example, Isaiah 21:9 and the great prophecies of Jeremiah 50 and 51 with Revelation 14:8 and the rejoicing over her destruction as seen in Revelation 19).

Second: How the blood of all that were slain upon earth was found in her finally (Revelation 18:24). We know from our Lord’s words concerning Jerusalem (which stood for self-righteousness) that upon her came cumulatively “all the righteous blood” shed upon earth from the blood of Abel: but upon final Babylon, the blood of all that had been slain.

Third: We must explain how “the blood of the prophets” (evidently referring to Old Testament prophets) as well as of other saints, was found in her. This was not so as to Rome. Even if we limit the last verse of Reve- lation 18 to the blood of God’s people, this difficulty remains.

Fourth: It is in the nature of things impossible, or at least most improbable, that a name which marked the enemy of God’s work in the world since the days of the Flood, right through the Old Testament, that of the city which destroyed Jerusalem and vaunted itself and its gods above all, should now in the New Testament be limited to a false church, which, although headed up in Rome upon the Tiber (that is, in the Papacy) never as such reached the world-wide sphere of the damning influence the Spirit of God declares Babylon to have had: “Babylon hath been a golden cup in Jehovah’s hand, that hath made all the earth drunken” (Jeremiah 51:7).

Fifth: We expect in the book of Revelation the heading up of all the principles both of good and evil, which have appeared in human history. If we allow Babylon to express Satan’s system of evil, as especially developed from Babel onwards after the Flood, and including all those various systems of idolatry and false worship which have had their spring, or root, or direct teaching in Babylon, we find in the picture presented to us in Revelation 17 and 18 an adequate portrayal; otherwise, we must leave out vast populations that Romanism as such has never touched, but which has indeed drunk of the intoxicating idolatrous cup of Babylon.

Sixth: If we thus consider Babylon as an expression of the whole Satanic system from the earliest times since the Flood onward, we are quite prepared to understand the position of the harlot, “mystery Babylon,” in Revelation 17. For no one can deny that the nations which have influenced the history of mankind since the days of the apostles when the Church began until the present, have been those nations that have come under the influence of the harlot as represented in the papacy. Thus we can fully consent to the “seven hills” on which she sits, being the well-known hills of Rome, the fourth world-power, as so constantly described by Latin writers. But that this great harlot called “mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17, had her beginning with the papacy, we feel to be contrary to the Scripture taken as a whole and to the known historical facts.

Seventh: Of course, as illustrated in France under Clemenceau, Mexico under Calles, and Russia under Lenin and Stalin, we see the chief obstacle of the secular power, and the one chiefly hated by them, to be established Christianity as represented (or sadly misrepresented) in these countries. Every one senses, for instance, the two directly opposing powers in Rome itself, in Mussolini and the Pope. At present the papacy “rides” the Roman beast, although, as we know, to a most fearful fall, and that we believe not far distant.

Even when the Church maintained its early holy separateness from the world and the State, it was the object of the supreme hatred of the secular power, the fourth world-power. Magisterial authority is committed by God to man, but he immediately abuses it by arrogating independence of God who “ordained” him. See Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 3, and Darius of Persia in Daniel 6.

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness: and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked (literally, gilded) with gold and precious stone and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations, even the unclean things of her fornication, and upon her forehead a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered with a great wonder.

Note here, first the setting, then the vision, and last the effect upon the apostle.

First, we behold a wilderness. This is a literal description of the region surrounding both Babylon on the Euphrates and Rome on the Tiber: the former, marshes and swamps; the latter, the Campagna—“a marble wilderness”; in John’s day rich and inhabited, but “desolated about the time the popes began to flourish.”

But it is the spiritual wilderness which we need to observe. Babylon, in whatever form, has been a desolator of God’s people and His truth.

We next notice that it is a woman that is first presented to us in this vision. Remember that we are here reading mystic terms (verses 1-6); and that the angel in verse 7 proceeds to unfold the “mystery.” Who the woman is, or what she is, is revealed in the last verse of the chapter: “The woman whom thou sawest is the great city which hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth” (R. V. margin).

And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou wonder? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come. Here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition. And the ten horns that thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet; but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour. These have one mind, and they give their power and authority unto the beast. These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and chosen and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the harlot sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast, these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and shall burn her utterly with fire. For God did put in their hearts to do his mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished. And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth.

Now the “great wonder,” with which John was struck at the vision of her, shows, it seems to me, that there was nothing either in Scripture (which John, being in the Spirit, would know), or in the apostle’s own experience or discernment, that would enable him to solve the mystery this woman presented. I know the angel says: “Wherefore didst thou wonder?” but it seems that this question was a mild form of reproof that the apostle had not turned at once to his angelic guide; for that guide proceeds: “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her.”

We know that the true Church was a mystery hid in God until revealed to the apostle Paul; and doubtless John, like Peter (2 Peter 3:15, 16) had studied those marvelous letters of the Gentile apostle—that “less than the least of all saints,” to whom God unfolded the heavenly character, calling, and destiny of the Church, as the Body and the Bride of Christ—to be caught up and presented to Him, “without spot or blemish or any such thing.”

Now, behold! Here was another woman, the very antithesis of the true Church, unholy, profligate, hideous, shamelessly displaying “the things of her fornication,” seated upon the beast that John must have instantly recognized from the former vision (Revelation 13), as the last great world-power, and now “full of names and blasphemy,” and also scarlet-colored! It was then the Roman beast, filling the world with blasphemous wickedness. That scarlet was one of the colors of imperial Rome, we know from Matthew 27:28. They put a scarlet robe on our Lord, in mockery of His title as King.

But this woman is seen in both purple and scarlet (Christ was by Rome also arrayed in

purpleMark 15:16, 20)! Purple was the Roman imperial color. The emperor was clothed in it: the senators wore a broad band of it, and the knights, a narrower band; so that this woman in John’s eyes would be exercising all the power of the Roman Empire, though herself not crowned, not a queen, in her own right! Thus the mystery. Who was she? On her forehead was written the word “mystery,” and “Babylon,” and also the fact that she was a “mother of harlots” and also of “abominations” (false gods) for the whole earth. Furthermore, she was drunken with blood!—and that of the saints (before Christ) and “the martyrs of Jesus” (after His coming).

Babylon, the City, and Its Final Doom
Revelation 18
Outline:

1. The second angelic announcement (verses 1-3).

2. The call to God’s people to flee out of Babylon (verses 4, 5).

3. The final character of Babylon’s sin—now become full—godless world-commerce (verses 12-17, 23b).

4. The mode of Babylon’s final overthrow: catastrophic—in “one hour,” and direct: from God’s hand (verses 8, 19, 21).

5. The “mourning” of earth’s kings and merchants (verses 9-11, 15-19).

6. The awful perpetual curse of desolation upon Babylon (verses 2, 22, 23).

7. The cumulative guilt of Babylon: the blood of prophets, saints and all earth’s murdered (verse 24).

8. The solemn fact that her judgment was decided by the saints in heaven (verse 20).

9. The unlimited joy of heaven over this final judgment of Babylon (verse 20 and 19:1-5—The four hallelujahs).

10. Babylon’s people doomed to eternal flames (19:3).

Before we proceed with this great chapter which reveals the sudden ending under divine wrath of the present world system, let us say a few words concerning the real meaning of the spirit of commercialism which has been seizing tighter hold every hour upon so-called civilization and will be the cause of its wreck.

The Character Of Commerce

1. It is not of God—especially world-commerce, but is of man and of Satan.

2. God placed His nation, Israel, in a land where commerce with other nations was very nearly impossible. Palestine had no harbors. On the East and South were deserts; at the North, mountains with only a narrow “entering in.” Jehovah expressly forbade the multiplying of horses, and also of silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:16, 17).

3. North of Israel, the city of Tyre on the Mediterranean coast became the great maritime center of the earth and upon it was pronounced the terrible judgment of Ezekiel 26-28. Chapter 26, too, reveals Tyre’s envy of Jerusalem as a place where the peoples of the earth should resort and her desire to turn to herself in a commercial way, that gathering of peoples whom God meant to be instructed at Jerusalem in a spiritual way (as all the ends of the earth came to hear the wisdom of Solomon).

4. Israel’s commercial dealings corrupted her both in the days of Solomon and Jehoshaphat. “Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy traffickers (Tyre’s): they traded for thy merchandise wheat of Minnith, and pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm” (Ezekiel 27:17).

Zechariah closes his prophecy concerning the Millennium: “In that day there shall be no more a Canaanite (literally, trafficker) in the house of Jehovah of hosts.”

5. International commerce:

      a. Enables man to avoid as far as possible God’s command to till the earth and to live by the sweat of his brow.

      b. Tends to unify the humanity that God has definitely divided into nations, for the very purpose of covering the earth with the spirit of self-confidence and rebellion as before Babel (Genesis 11).

      c. Enables individuals, cities and nations to become unduly swollen with riches. It begets universal covetousness, which is idolatry—in that the man who has money, can be independent of God. Govett well says: “The
      opposition to the spirit of commerce which this Book of God shows, is very remarkable, especially as running in direct contrast to the avowed plans of rulers and peoples of our day. ‘Cherish COMMERCE,’ is one of the great
      admitted ends of statesmanship. But its effects upon the mind are generally productive of covetousness.”

6. The nature of commerce is very simple. You take your products (generally by ships) where you can get the highest price; fill your ship there and again sail where you get the high price, and again load your ship at a low
cost with wares desirable in other countries, and so on and on. Now this is not tilling the ground and living quietly. God hates it and will destroy it utterly. What God wants, is that each man live beneath “his own vine and fig-tree,” “content with such things” as he has. “Big business” is an abomination. It will be the ruination of the world.

7. “Business” is an excuse most common in the thoughts of men for not serving God (and yet shortly they will stand before God!) Millions of men really think that “business” has a real claim upon them.110

8. We see the wickedness of the spirit of commercialism both from the fearful power exercised by the Beast of Revelation 13, forbidding either selling or buying without “his mark” stamped upon the hand or upon the forehead, and also from chapter 18 of Revelation. It is atheistic; it is self-indulgent; it is self-confident: “I sit a queen.”

9. The difficulties experienced by God’s dear saints of all days on account of “business” claims is proverbial. The spirit of commercialism, which has seized upon the human race, is fast blotting out real human ties (home, church or country).111

We scarcely know how far we have drifted. Our forefathers were content with their living. They had domestic ties, “family reunions,” quiet church affiliations, gladly worshipping in the same old church, generation after generation. They had deep, kind, loving patriotism.

But the forgetting of God is fast falling upon earth under the soul-stifling power of universal greed. Such delusive catch words as “a higher standard of living” have poisoned the streams of the life of the world. “Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have,” said Paul. “We brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.” “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Everybody wants to be rich—which damns its tens of millions! “Get up in the world.” “Get on in the world!” What lies! What will-o’-the-wisps of Satan to be followed by folks whose feet shall shortly stumble into open graves!

10. Commercialism brings spiritual deadness and insensibility as nothing else does. Once consent in your heart that “business” has a claim upon you and your spiritual life begins to shrivel. For a man to do an honest day’s work is not to yield to the claims that “business” makes upon humanity. God told us to work, to work with our hands, to do with our might what our hands find to do, to do the humblest tasks, even those of a slave, as unto the Lord. The thing called “business” has to be discerned distinctly by you if you are to understand the hideousness into which the whole world will leap, and alas, how shortly!

“Depression” is, I have no doubt, an answer to prayer, as was the famine in Ahab’s idolatrous days an answer to Elijah’s prayers. Civilization goes mad to get rich—anything to get rich! Now this simply means anything to gain independence of God. The Lord Jesus said, “Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

And God in His mercy has let men come to realize the deceitfulness of riches. “Have your hope,” said Paul, “set on God, and not on ‘the uncertainty of riches.’” The Lord Jesus said to His saints, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures, upon the earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” What He meant by the right use of money, He shows in the parable (Luke 16) of the unjust steward, whose master commended as wise, the lavishing of that master’s funds upon others, when the steward found he must give account. Then He said, “I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail (as it will), they (those you have helped) may welcome you into the eternal tabernacles” (R. V.).

After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird. For by the wine of the wrath of her fornication all the nations are fallen; and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth waxed rich by the power of her wantonness.

“Another angel”—than that of chapter 17:7; not Christ, who is not “another” angel: He is the Angel of Jehovah. (See notes on Revelation 10:1.) Christ, the Lamb in heaven, has given this angel “great authority.” (Christ Himself has all authority in heaven and on earth.) Nor is this angel to be confused with our Lord’s second coming in Revelation 19:11-16. This angel’s “glory” marks the greatness of the occasion.

The fact that this angel is additional to the one of chapter 17, is one of the proofs that the Babylon of chapter 18 is Babylon on the Euphrates rather than Rome (which is the mystery Babylon of chapter 17).

“Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.” The double use of “fallen” emphasizes the fact which excellent expositors have found here—that of the double overthrow of chapters 17 and 18.

“A habitation of demons, and a hold,” etc. Alford calls “hold” (phulake), “a place of detention, as it were, an appointed prison.” This is the evident meaning, so that the city of Babylon on the Euphrates during the Millennium will be a jail of demons. Compare Isaiah 24:21-23; which is millennial also, and the judgment upon Edom, in Isaiah 34:13-15; also millennial. (Of course these conditions give way to the last judgment—when the earth is destroyed, in 20:11-15, and all lost beings are finally sentenced.)

“Kings … and the merchants.” It is the last phase of Babylon, which is seen from Genesis 11 to Revelation; being first the city on the Euphrates which practiced idolatry and opposed God’s city Jerusalem; then in “mystery”—the harlot on the seven hills of Rome, continuing Babylon’s ancient trinity of father, mother and son, under Christian names; and finally, after the Church is raptured (4:1), the re-established world-capital at Babylon on the Euphrates, whose prophesied destruction like Sodom, has not yet taken place. Thus the human race would combine to set up Babylon, which becomes the center of commercial world-activity. Of Tyre, God wrote in Isaiah 23 that she was a “bestower of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth.” While the nations rush to rebuild Babylon and it becomes the Beast’s capital, then at last will be the full “power of her luxury” as described in Revelation 18:3 (margin).

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues: for her sins have reached even unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Render unto her even as she rendered, and double unto her the double according to her works: in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her double. How much soever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning. Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her. And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.

“Come forth, My people, out of her.”

While these words have a real application to the believer to come forth to Jesus outside the spiritual Babylon—ecclesiasticism, Nicolaitanism and the false promises of “mystery” Babylon in its various forms; yet the particular interpretation of the words is not to the saints, who will have been raptured before this call goes forth. The call to “come forth” from this great commercial Sodom of the last days—rebuilt Babylon, is evidently issued to those individuals living in or doing business in that capital of the Antichrist in the last days. In Isaiah 52:11 and Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6, 9, 45, we see that it will be especially Jewish saints and those attached to them that are warned; for they are bidden in Jeremiah 51:50 to “Remember Jehovah from afar, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.”

Now in Revelation 18:4-20 the “voice from heaven” of verse 4 is speaking. It is most solemn: the sure word of prophecy declaring to the opened ear a scene yet future with a vividness that makes it live before us!

Merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet; and all thyine wood, and every vessel of ivory, and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle and sheep; and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men. And the fruits which thy soul lusted after … and all things that were dainty and sumptuous … The merchants of these things … were made rich by her … she … was arrayed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stone and pearl! … So great riches … And every shipmaster, and everyone that saileth any whither, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by sea, stood afar off, and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like the great city? And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her. And a strong angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone and cast it into the sea, say- ing, thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers and minstrels and flute-players and trumpeters shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft, shall be found any more at all in thee; and the voice of a mill shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a lamp shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the princes of the earth; for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived.

We must remember that the Beast and his ten kings of chapter 17 made desolate the woman that sat on the seven mountains—Romanism (17:9, 16). But the overthrow of chapter 18 is directly from God: “in one day” “in one hour,” (18:8, 10, 17, 19). This overthrow is lamented by the kings of the earth.

Russia teaches us lessons here. For although she has burned churches and martyred priests and preachers, she is desperately seeking to build up commerce, to “industrialize” a whole nation in five years, to create markets by any means whatever! Russia would be self-sufficient, but for this curse of commerce that is filling the earth. Russia could close her harbors and have abundance to supply all her real needs, if her rulers were content to live in humble quiet. As far as she is able, she has destroyed religion, as the Antichrist will do in Revelation 17. But,—she desires luxury. And thus is she joined to Babylon in spirit.

If you desire to know the last and final form of iniquity, behold the two women of Zechariah 5 bearing an ephah, covered with a talent of lead. The woman, called Wickedness, sits in the ephah. “Whither do these bear the ephah?” asks the prophet, and the angel answers: “To build her a house in the land of Shinar: and when it is prepared, she shall be set there in her own place.” Now Babylon is in that land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10).

Notice in Revelation 18:3, 11, 15, 23, “the merchants of the earth,” also “merchandise,” (Greek “cargo”—showing these things will be carried by ships, as see verse 17). Rome has no market and the Tiber has no harbor, to speak of. Naming the articles of the cargo begins with verse 12: “Merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone,” etc. Nearly thirty kinds are enumerated, and it is all a story of luxury upon luxury! It must be pearls; it must be fine linen; it must be silk; it must be vessels of most precious wood; it must be fragrant spices; it must be wine and olive oil; it must be fine flour; it must be slaves; it must be things that are dainty and sumptuous. This city must be “decked” in fine linen, scarlet, gold, and pearls!

Now of course Roman Catholic dignitaries are seen thus decking themselves (at great cost to the poor and even to kings). But only the “clergy” and their retinues do this. The people suffer poverty.

1. Over three years before the Babylon described in Revelation 18, the Beast and his ten kings have destroyed the harlot, the city on seven hills.

2. For over three years more, the Beast and the Man of Sin who denies all that is called God and is worshipped, will have full power on earth.

3. Rome’s motto is “semper idem.” She cannot deny the Father and Son, as Antichrist does, and exist.

Therefore, it appears necessary to believe that the Babylon of chapter 18 is not Rome, but the great commercial center, Satan’s world-capital, which has always been Babylon on the Euphrates.

It seems clear from Scripture that God will permit one man publicly to “gain the whole world and forfeit his life.” And that God will also permit man’s love for luxury and pleasure, and the money that secures it, to run full riot, and set up an amazing world center of inconceivable grandeur and riches in the old place—Babylon.

Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her. And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. And a strong angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all.

We have noticed this, but it needs to be re-emphasized: “Mystery” Babylon was destroyed by man’s hand—by the Beast and his ten kings. Literal Babylon with its minstrels, flute-players, trumpeters, craftsmen, “marrying and giving in marriage” (verses 22, 23), will be overthrown, and in an instant, swallowed up into the bowels of the earth, and with a burning like Sodom and Gomorrah. The earthquake under the seventh seal of Revelation 16:19 was seen destroying Babylon, the great. (Isaiah 13, 18, 19.) And then the next verse, Isaiah 13:20, has never been fulfilled: for there are inhabitants there. The Arabians do pitch their tents and the shepherds make their flocks to lie down there; but when God destroys it finally, there shall be no such thing.

Chapter XVI
Marriage Of The Lamb

Revelation 19:1-10

Revelation 19 is full, with two tremendous events:

1. The marriage of the Lamb celebrated in heaven; and the marriage supper in heaven.

2. The advent of the Lord in the Great Day of Wrath, as King of kings; and the slaughter on earth, and the frightful “supper” connected therewith.

As the Day of Wrath at Armageddon is the most fearful, so is the marriage of the Lamb the most blessed and happy of all events that have occurred so far in creation.

Introduction—The Four Hallelujahs—(Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6)

Hallelujah is the Hebrew expression frequently occurring in the later Psalms and meaning “praise to Jehovah.” The last five Psalms, 146-150 (R. V.) begin and end with this wonderful word, hallelujah. Others, like Psalm 106, set forth the spirit of millennial anticipation and praise, as does the shortest—Psalm 117. Only in these four verses of Revelation 19 does this mighty praise-word occur in the New Testament.

But this is what we would expect; for there is no place today (except in the life of individual saints who rejoice in the assembly, under the movement of the Holy Spirit) for this great word of high exultation unto God.

Because the Messiah when He came to Israel, although received by the wise men with exceeding joy, and gladdening the hearts of the poor shepherds, was rejected by Israel, and crucified; victory was postponed, and hallelujah can be uttered only by faith when the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit and becomes a prophetic testimony of grace. Personal hallelujahs can be given to God, but the triumph that brings the universal hallelujah to all holy things is yet in the future! Indeed, mercy and grace were too soon forgotten, and papal bondage entered into by the Church itself. The harlot Babylon rises—the woman drunken with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17). It is not the time for hallelujahs.

Not until Babylon, the harlot, is completely overthrown, swallowed up in divine indignation, as we see in Revelation 17; and not until literal Babylon (Chapter 18) is completely gone, and all Babylonian things have disappeared forever, does hallelujah burst forth from all holy hearts.

Notice that the first two hallelujahs are drawn forth by Babylon’s judgment:

After these things I heard as it were a great voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah; Salvation, and glory, and power, belong to our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot, her that corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And a second time they say, Hallelujah. And her smoke goeth up for ever and ever.

Indeed, verse 4, including the third hallelujah, with the word “Amen” preceding it, may well be joined with the hallelujahs of verses 1 and 3, as expressing the utter consent of those most intimately connected with the divine throne—the twenty-four elders and the four living beings.

And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God that sitteth on the throne, saying, Amen; Hallelujah.

There is now a call from the throne itself, for universal jubilant praise, such as it seems has never been issued before:

And a voice came forth from the throne, saying, Give praise to our God, all ye his servants, ye that fear him, the small and the great.

Notice that this call is given to all whose warfare is over, for it is a heavenly scene.112

We now come to the mightiest verse of response to God in all Scripture:

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth. While all preceding hallelujahs have risen from relief at the overthrow of Babylon, this fourth hallelujah is a limitless expression of ecstasy at the reign of “the Lord our God the Almighty.”

In our poor feeble spiritual experiences and aspirations, it is most difficult even to imagine the delight in God heard now in heaven. A great multitude—many waters—like mighty thunders: such is the voice!

The Marriage of the Lamb

Now, at last, we are coming to that inexpressible climax, that glorious event awaited by God the Father, and the Bridegroom, His Son; and the Blessed Spirit. Yes, and all holy beings, who like John (the Bridegroom’s friend) can say, “this my joy therefore is made full.” And so we read:

Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Let us reflect that this “marriage of the Lamb” has been the longed-for and looked-for event of age upon age. It is not necessary that this great event of blessing should have been continually referred to in Scripture to make it important. The virgin birth of our Lord is not frequently referred to, but of how vast eternal consequence! And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are true words of God. And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Certain questions arise immediately concerning this great revelation of the marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper.

1. When does this event occur? Evidently directly upon the overthrow of Babylon on earth; for the celebration of that judgment-event in Revelation 19:1-5 was immediately succeeded in verses 6 and 7 by the mighty praise attending the reigning of the “Lord our God the Almighty,” which brings in the marriage.

2. Where is the marriage, with its attending marriage supper, celebrated? The answer can only be—in heaven; for the scene is wholly heavenly. No one can read verse 6 without coming to this conclusion.

3. What saints constitute “the bride, the wife of the Lamb”? The Church! See Ephesians 5:22-32.

In Israel as a nation the high priest was expressly forbidden to marry a “divorced woman” or “a widow” (Leviticus 21:10, 13, 14). Israel is spoken of both as divorced (Jeremiah 3:8) and as a widow (Lamentations 1:1; Isaiah 54:4). When Jehovah returns to Israel in millennium blessings, Isaiah 62:4, 5 will be fulfilled, as will 54:4, 5, etc., but it will be “Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married,” for, “as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” This is an earthly scene, and must be contrasted with the marriage of the heavenly Bride, the wife of the Lamb.

In Revelation 21:10, the angel reveals the wife of the Lamb to John, thus:

“He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” We read concerning the patriarchs, that they desired a better country, that is a heavenly; therefore, “God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God,” for He prepared for them a city. Also, that Abraham “looked for the city,” with the foundations, whose architect and maker is God. And in Galatians 4:26 Paul declares concerning Church saints that “the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother.”

This heavenly Jerusalem is seen in Revelation 21:24-27 to have come down to the new earth (upon a great and high mountain), with the “nations” walking amid the light thereof, and the kings of the earth bringing their glory into it—the gates never being closed, and admitting the holy inhabitants of earth freely.113

That Abraham, the patriarchs, and all who were given by God a heavenly hope, will share in the bliss of the New Jerusalem, appears scriptural.

But that Abraham or any other Old Testament saint will form part of the Body of Christ, we cannot for a moment believe! The great mystery of the Church, His Body, committed to Paul in such a sense that he called himself minister thereof (Colossians 1:24-27), a ministry so very distinct, definite and exclusive as to call for the great passage of Ephesians 5:23, cannot be merely an opening up to Old Testament saints of a calling, character and privileges which they possessed and of which they did not know! That is unthinkable. No one was “baptized” into that one Body until Pentecost. When that Body, the Church, is presented by Christ to Himself “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” it will be composed only of the saints from Pentecost to the rapture.

4. Are the marriage and the marriage supper distinct? It certainly appears so, for in Revelation 19:9, you have those that are “bidden” to the marriage supper of the Lamb. These guests most certainly do not constitute the Bride. No bride needs an invitation to her own wedding!

In John 3:29, John the Baptist says, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice; this my joy therefore is made full.” Now, here is a saint concerning whom the Lord Jesus testified: “Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater.” And yet he is not of the Bride. Nevertheless, he is at the marriage supper, for he is the friend of the bridegroom—a place of singular honor! In divine, sovereign arrangement, he is not of the Bride.

5. Who will be the guests at the marriage supper? Evidently not all the saints; otherwise, why the special blessing pronounced (verse 9) upon those that are bidden to the marriage supper?

      I. The Prime Importance of This Marriage Scene

1. This event is the great delight of God, to which He has looked forward from all ages. It is a fulfilment of our Lord’s words of Matthew 22, “A certain king … who made a marriage feast for his son.” The relationship of the Father and the Son is one of infinite, eternal tenderness. All marriage joys of earth were planned by God and given to mankind in love that they might understand somewhat of heaven’s feeling at this marriage; for, “love is of God.”

Let us seek to enter, if we may, into the contemplation of that delight of the Father—“from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14), when the time at last has come for His Son to “present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”; for God the Father gave the Church to Christ. Read John 17: “I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me.” There is no meditation so exalting as that upon the relationship and affections of the Persons of the Godhead, one to another.

2. This marriage is the great anticipation of Christ. Paul tells us the story in Ephesians 5—“Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself up for it.” His love for the Church is immeasurable, unchanging, infinite. It is in the very nature of the case, peculiar love. Christ wept over Jerusalem, for there was, and is, a special tenderness of our God toward those to whom He was the Messiah, and over whom He will be King on David’s throne. He had “compassion on the multitude” as He does today. He gave Himself a ransom for all. But His love for His Bride, the Church, is, as it must be, and that, eternally, a peculiar, particular, husband’s affection, and that without measure!

3. This heavenly wedding is the great prospect of all holy beings. (We mean, of course, of all those in heaven; for this marvelous scene is wholly heavenly, as is evident.)

From the time in Revelation 5, when the Lamb takes the seven-sealed book of the kingdom, His actions as well as His Person have been the constant jubilant delight of heaven (Revelation 5:8-14; 7:9-17; 11:15). But now the climax has been reached. In an earthly wedding, especially a wedding of the favorite one of the house, how all the relatives and also the servants of the household are stirred! Now Jehovah God appointed and directed the first wedding, in Genesis 2, and our Lord’s first miracle at Cana of Galilee celebrated with “the best wine” another wedding. But Ephesians 5:25, 31 and 32 proclaims that every marriage sets forth anew the relationship of Christ and the Church! It is, therefore, the height of holy joy to every heavenly being, this marriage of the Lamb!

4. To bring in this festal day in heaven, Satan’s earthly system was overthrown.

This marriage could not be celebrated while the harlot Babylon, the false church, who pretended infamously to be the Bride of Christ, remained unjudged.

        a. For the heavenly wedding must have peace and joy unmixed—all gladness, unmingled with jealousy or conflict.

        b. Judgment of that which pretended to be Christ’s Bride was absolutely necessary for such peace and joy.

        c. Just as the triumph of holiness over iniquity is necessary for public peace, so indignation must give place to satisfaction of heart for such an occasion as the heavenly wedding.

        d. Participation in God’s holiness and holy judgment must be prior and preliminary to participation in His day
        of love toward His Son, and to that Son’s absolute delight. Therefore, we read concerning the judgment of
        Babylon: “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged
        your judgment on her.” The very beings who are now to enter into the festal joys of the marriage of the Lamb, whether they are guests or servants, are those who pronounced the judgment which God executed upon the shameless, earthly, Satanic bride-pretender. You remember that David’s mighty wars had to precede Solomon’s reign of peace and the Song of Songs of marriage joy.

5. Review the expressions of rapture with which all holy, heavenly beings celebrate this wedding.

First, “The voice of a great multitude saying, Hallelujah!” (Revelation 19:1). Then you have the four and twenty elders, and the four living creatures of verse 4, with “Amen, Hallelujah.” Then comes the call from the throne: “Give praise to our God, all ye his servants, ye that fear him, the small and the great.” Then follows the most mighty voice of heavenly acclamation in the whole Bible: “The voice of a great multitude” rises like “many waters” and “mighty thunders,” saying, “Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reign-eth. Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Through age on age, the heavenly hosts have burned with ever-increasing expectancy toward this culminating day of divine joy!

      II. Identifying the Church as the Bride of Christ

1. The Church is the Bride—“The wife”—as seen in:

        a. Ephesians 5:23-32. This passage compels this belief. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul writes, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”

        b. The scene of Revelation 19 of the marriage of the Lamb is wholly heavenly; the Bride could not be, therefore, the earthly nation Israel.

        c. Israel is both divorced and widowed. She will be Jehovah’s restored wife in the thousand years; but not the heavenly Bride of Christ, the Son.

2. Fix in mind the difference between the marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper of the Lamb. One is the occasion itself, the other the celebration by others
than the Bride of the occasion. In the marriage, it is the wife; in the supper, the guests, that are in view.

      III. The Marriage Bliss of the Lamb and His Wife

The bliss of the marriage of the Lamb is without limit. It is the Personal Delight of Him who created all things! No other love has the person-toward-person character of marital love. Parents love their children because they are their children. Brothers and sisters alike have a love of natural relationship. Friendships are based on common interests. But the love of bridegroom and bride is a delight each in the person of the other. This is why marital love is so often so wholly unexplainable! We say, “What did he see in her?” or, “Why did she choose him?” There is no answer but one—love. This love of Christ’s for His Bride is the love that is “strong as death … a very flame of Jah,” that “many waters cannot quench,” of the Song of Songs (8:6, 7— margin).

Let us dwell upon the words, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for it.” He values His Bride as Himself. And upon her, He lavishes His personal affection, without limit, constantly, and for evermore! For we read in Revelation 21, after the thousand years have passed, that she is still “as a wife adorned for her husband.”

Here then is a marital love, a tenderness, an appreciation, and a delight, that will grow for ever and for ever. Oh, wonder of wonders, that such a record can be written! Christ will never change in His affections! What must the ages hold for the wife of the lamb!

And the love of that Bride, the wife of the Lamb, will correspond to that of her husband—unceasing, increasing, for ever and for ever!

Have you known a husband and wife whose love deepened as the years went by, whose satisfaction with each other was such as to keep them together constantly, of their own mutual will; whom neither “society” nor “business,” nor outside pleasures could separate? Let such a happy marital existence be a whisper to you of what Christ and the Church will enjoy more and yet more for evermore!

We no longer marvel at the effect upon John the Seer, as he views and tastes in the Spirit the ecstasy of this unutterable occasion. It is a sign of the overwhelming blessedness of the marriage of the Lamb and the festal supper thereafter, that this apostle, who had been on the transfiguration mountain; and had been filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; and had seen the glorious Son of God, and the heavenly throne itself; and all the wonders of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials; and who had heard the thunders of the heavenly hallelujahs—that he is now at last suddenly so enraptured by the bliss of the Church’s coming marriage day that he falls to worship at the feet of the revealing angel!

      IV. The Marriage Supper

In Psalm 45:1-5 we have a marvelous description of Christ’s second coming as King. He is called “King of kings” in Revelation 19, and here in this Psalm, He is “the King”—“fairer than the children of men.” His triumphant advent and victory over His enemies is portrayed, and His personal majesty and beauty make a glorious and thrilling picture. God the Father is, in verses 6 and 7, speaking to Christ (compare Hebrews 1:8, 9), “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever … God, thy God, hath anointed thee With the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Here the Bridegroom’s companions are seen and then the Bridegroom’s personal presence: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.” Then the gladness and joy of the day to the Lord Himself: “Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made thee glad. Kings’ daughters are among thy honorable women.” (This is a scene, of course, after the Lord and His Bride, the Church, have come down to earth and inaugurated the millennial reign.)

“At thy right hand doth stand the queen in gold of Ophir.”

And then this divine word to her in that glad day:

“Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house” (the things of the first creation are left behind forever!).

“So will the king desire thy beauty.” (“The king,” here, is Christ, the Husband.)

“For he is thy lord; and reverence thou him.”

“And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift”—earthly gifts.

“The rich among the people (Israel) shall entreat thy favor”—that is, of the Queen, the Church, in the new Jerusalem, her home (Revelation 21).

“The king’s daughter within the palace is all glorious”: that is, in the new Jerusalem which will be tabernacling above the earthly Jerusalem in the 1000 years; and afterward upon the new earth.

“She shall be led unto the king upon broidered work.

“The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

“With gladness and rejoicing shall they be led:

“They shall enter into the king’s palace.”

The virgins, her companions, may be represented by the five wise virgins in Matthew 25. We see them again in the Song of Solomon, where the “daughters of Jerusalem” delight in the bride. But those “daughters” are not the bride. The beloved Shulamite, espoused by King Solomon, is the type of the Church as the Bride of Christ in that coming day (Song of Songs 3:11; 6:8, 9). Here we find several companies: First, the Bride; next, the “guests” at the high festival in heaven; then, the “virgins” who enter the marriage feast of Matthew 25:10; again, those ready and looking for their Lord “when He shall return from the (heavenly) marriage feast,” an evidently earthly scene. See the passage in Luke 12:35-40.

We know that some insist the five wise virgins represent the real saints, who are raptured up to the heavenly marriage feast; that the “foolish virgins” are not “known” by Christ, and so represent unsaved professors; and that this marriage feast the five wise enter (inasmuch as but one marriage feast seems to be described), may be the heavenly feast; and that the “ten virgins” parable is surely meant to instruct and warn all who profess to belong to Christ.

However, the festivities of our Lord’s coming back to earth, described in Psalm 45 as following the Great Day of Wrath, certainly constitute a celebration as well as a prolongation of marriage bliss and joy, consequent upon the marriage of the King. The earthly and Jewish character of Matthew’s gospel, together with the fact that the “ten virgins” scene is evidently connected with our Lord’s return to earth and as “Son of man” (Matthew 24:37, 39, 44, and the opening word of Matthew 25, tote—“at that time”); considered in connection with the feast and the marriage of Revelation 19, which is not directly connected with Christ’s coming, all make me believe that the “ten virgins” enter the celebration after the heavenly marriage and are thus connected with Psalm 45.

      V. What Is the Bride’s “Making Herself Ready”?

We read, “It was given unto her.” The preparation for this marriage, “the supreme event for which the ages are waiting,” is an absolute bestowal of divine grace. It is not, of course, salvation, since those who constitute the Bride were saved long before, while on earth. But it is a special granting from God to prepare herself for this great climax.

Again, to “array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” The King James version falls utterly short of the meaning, by translating the Greek plural word dikaiomata, which means “righteous things” or “acts” as if it were dikaiosunee, “righteousness.” These bridal saints were declared righteous in Christ when first they believed. The bridal array for the wedding, is something absolutely different.

Garments are woven little by little; and thus were woven the materials for her, the Bride of Christ.

The Holy Spirit who indwelt the Church wrought what Paul calls in Philippians 1:11 “the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ”; or, as in Ephesians 2-10, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”

Now, although for our service each one in the kingdom will “receive his own reward according to his own labor,” yet all the works wrought through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit in and by the saints of the Bride will all belong alike to that holy Bride: for the whole Church is the Bride. Linen represents manifested righteousness, and this is “fine linen, bright and pure.” It has that same “exceeding white and glistering” appearance as her Lord’s raiment had on the transfiguration mount—of glory as well as purity.

In other words, the Church will appear, all of it, in raiment wholly befitting Christ, her glorious Bridegroom. She herself had no righteousness; Christ Himself is her righteousness and her standing. She is one with Him. But now all those blessed Spirit-led works, those “righteous acts” of the saints while on earth, are wrought to produce an array manifestly befitting the Bride, herself, without “spot, blemish or any such thing”—in this unspeakable scene!

      VI. Exactly What Is the Marriage?

Is it not Christ’s presenting “the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,” described so rapturously by Paul in Ephesians 5? We constantly read in Scripture (where alone we dare read here) of a man taking a wife unto himself. We get our attention, at an earthly wedding, fixed on the ceremony: forgetting that the real marriage is “this man taking unto him this woman” to be his wedded wife. The “ceremony” only proclaims and pronounces it; as the wedding feast only celebrates it. The perfect picture of Christ’s taking the Church as His Bride is seen in Gene- sis 24, where Abraham would “make a marriage for his son.” He sends Eliezer, his steward, to far Mesopotamia, to find and woo Rebekah by showing her the “things” of Abraham and Isaac (as the Holy Spirit shows us “the things of Christ”); and Rebekah says, “I will go.” And then, the journey over, “Isaac took Rebekah; and she became his wife; and he loved her.”

Chapter XVII
The Great Day Of Wrath

Revelation 19:11—20:3

      I. The Coming to Earth of Christ as KING OF KINGS

And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And his eyes a flame of fire, and upon his head many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knoweth but he himself. And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure. And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. And he hath on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The passage before us, which includes Revelation 19: 11 to 20:3, may be divided as follows:

      I. The coming to earth of Christ as King of Kings, and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16).

      II. The gathering of the birds to the “supper of God” (Revelation 19:17,18).

      III. The overthrow of Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:19-21).

      IV. Satan bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).

I never heard a sermon on the Great Day of Wrath—did you? Yet the writings of the prophets are full of that very day!

The coming of the Day of Wrath is, as we have found, at the end of the long-suffering of God. For centuries of human sin God had waited. Even after He proceeds to preliminary judgments, He goes with slow steps, as we have seen in the seals, trumpets, and vials. Under these divine strokes, the earth, like Pharaoh of old, hardens itself into utter blasphemy “against God who had the power over these plagues.” Now comes the Great Day of God, The Almighty (Revelation 16:14).

We again solemnly urge every believer to study the Scriptures concerning this Great Day of Wrath. It is entirely separate and distinct from the last judgment of the Great White Throne.114

1. The Day of Wrath is a particular and distinct event:

        a. It is separated in time from the last judgment by a thousand years and a little more (Revelation 20:3, 7, 11).

        b. Its object is entirely distinct and different from the day of judgment. The latter is to pronounce final and eternal destiny; “books” are opened; inquiries made; exact, judicial sentence pronounced. But the Day of Wrath,
        which precedes the thousand years’ reign of Christ and His saints, is to get the earth cleared up for that thousand years’ kingdom.

        c. The last judgment comes on only after the present heavens and earth have passed away; but the Day of Wrath is an event on this earth; the embattled rebels
        being dealt with in Palestine!

2. The Day of Wrath has specific characteristics:

        a. It is the pent-up divine outburst of indignation, of outraged holiness, majesty, love and truth! The earth will be filled with haters of God, blasphemers of His blessed Name, despisers of His Son. “Therefore saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.” His sword shall drink its fill (Isaiah 34:5). “I will also smite and I will cause my wrath to rest.”

        b. God will thus answer the prayers of all His saints for the coming of His kingdom on earth—that His will may be done here as in heaven, where everything is subject to Him. Their prayers finally bring this answer!

All things opposing the establishment of that kingdom must be swept out of the way by the besom of destruction.

Let it be understood that no “moral suasion” whatever is connected with the setting up of the kingdom of God upon this earth. It will be a putting of Christ’s enemies under His feet by the stupendous instantaneous exercise of power in wrath. The human will must be put down. The Millennium, or thousand years’ reign, which follows the Day of Wrath, will be an iron-rod rule. It will be dashing in pieces like a potter’s vessel absolutely everything opposed to the will of God on this earth. Rebellion will not be allowed to lift its head.

We must conceive of God as long-suffering, full of compassion, merciful, for wrath is His “strange” action. He postpones judgment for that reason; as we read in Isaiah 28:21: “Jehovah will rise up … He will be wroth … that he may do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” God is love; that is His name; but His wrath—when mercy is no longer left, when iniquity has filled up its cup—will be all the more terrible. The old proverb, “Beware of the anger of a patient man” illustrates this.

        c. God would have His wrath shown and His power made known. We know He will do thus forever upon the “vessels of wrath” described in Romans 9:22. Therefore, it should not surprise us that at the inauguration of the reign of His Son upon this earth, the fury and fierceness of the anger of God against the finally obdurate, hateful human rebels, who have allied themselves with God’s old enemy, Satan, to oppose His dear Son, to keep Him out of His rights, to resist His taking the throne which He purchased with His Own Blood—will burst forth with unrestrained wrath toward His enemies, until they be utterly swept off the earth or entirely subdued.

        d. The vast riddle of permitted evil will thus be resolved. Things will come to such a pass on this earth that only the intervention of God in wrath will satisfy the public conscience of holy beings.

        e. Christ and the heavenly armies are themselves the executors in this terrible day of visitation.

3. Mark the four names given to the Lamb on that day:

        a. “Faithful and True.” By this name He is seen as the Sitter on the white horse, coming from the open heaven. This name reminds us of His earthly life of faithfulness upon which God bases His exaltation—(Psalm 45 and Philippians 2). But He is coming now in righteousness, not in grace. Before, He said He came not to judge but to save the world; now, He comes as judge. This great day reveals Him “making war.” Note this: later He will judge the nations, ruling them with an iron rod, but this is the war of the great day of God. The struggle will be brief; but remember it is not sessional judgment, but battle.

His eyes are now “a flame of fire”;—not merely “like a flame of fire” (as in Church days: Revelation 2:18). As over against the ten diadems of Antichrist—how briefly worn!—are “many diadems”—universal dominion—upon His head.

        b. The Unknown Name. It is “written,” but He alone knows it, for is He not God?

        c. “The Word of God.” Thus is He arrayed in the blood sprinkled garments of vengeance, according to the prophetic word. His retinue follow on white horses, in fine linen, white and pure. It will include all the angels (Matthew 25:31) and all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13). Whatsoever other principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and “glories” may attend, there will be infinitely above all, “his own glory, and the glory of the Father” (Luke 9:26)!

The “sharp sword” is His Word, His voice.115

        d. Finally, the royal vesture, and the thigh of might,116 marked, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” How all earthly royalty and power collapses and withers at this sight! We shall have occasion to trace further, in looking at the Millennium and its order, the might and glory of the King of Kings!

      II. The Gathering of the Birds to the “Supper of God”

And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in midheaven, Come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great.

Flesh, flesh, flesh, flesh, flesh!—five times over! They chose to walk after the flesh spiritually and now their flesh must be devoured literally!

If you ask me how an angel could stand in the sun and speak to earth, I answer frankly, I do not know,—except that it will be done. I have often felt that men know little of astronomy, for all their vaunted discoveries. I am certain that they know little of the power of angels “the mighty in strength, that do God’s commandments.”

Now, behold, the frightful feast on earth,—the birds feasting on those who despised the invitation on high to the marriage supper of the Lamb; both feasts described in this one chapter! What a lesson!

The balance maintained by God in creation is a marvel. “I have created the waster to destroy,” God said. If insect or animal pests increase to the point of danger, other creatures are on hand to devour them, which in turn must themselves be devoured, if necessary for man’s preservation.

When our Lord described, in Luke 17:34, 35, the snatching away by the angels of those that “caused stumbling and practiced iniquity” in order that those “left” might share His kingdom (Matthew 13:41-43), the disciples inquired about this action, and the scene of it, in the words “Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Where the body is thither will the vultures also be gathered together” (Luke 17:37 R.V. margin).

Now we know that when the Lamb in wrath treads the battle line at Armageddon, absolutely millions upon millions pour out their blood in slaughter—even to the bridles of the horses!

This then, in Revelation 19, is a literal call to the birds which feed upon flesh, from all over the earth: and they come! It is a literal feast, awful though the scene may be. God’s scavengers clean the land completely.

No interpretation is possible for this passage but the literal one: anything else is unbelievable, fantastic. And when we accept it as literal we see the necessity of it. God will not allow His Son’s kingdom to begin with a plague, caused by the festering carcasses of slain multitudes.

      III. The Overthrow of Antichrist and His Armies

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight, wherewith he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image: they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone; and the rest were killed with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, even the sword which came forth out of his mouth; and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

The description of the great supper by the birds, precedes that of the slaughter of those upon whom they feed, as the closing words of this passage show.

What an array! “The Beast, (the Antichrist) and the kings of the earth” are “gathered together”—not only the Antichrist’s allied ten kings, but, deluded by the three unclean spirits of Revelation 16:13, 14 “the kings of the whole world” are gathered together “unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.” We have already noted that their headquarters will be at the valley of Megiddo, called Armageddon, just southeast of Mt. Carmel in Palestine.

There is evidently on the part of these armies, a knowledge of Him against whom they are fighting. I believe that when the heaven is “opened” and the Lamb upon the white horse and His armies come forth, the scene is visible from this earth. It is a direct warfare of hell against heaven. Satan, cast with his millions of angels out of heaven in his war against Michael and his angels (chapter twelve), has brought up this false christ with his false prophet and arrayed the millions of earth’s mortals against Michael’s Lord and all the hosts of heaven! What supreme folly! The dragon could not prevail even against Michael. Now he is trusting the puny arm of flesh to defy the whole host of heaven, led by the Son of God Himself! This is the incurable insanity of sin, which wars away in spite of defeat after defeat, against a holy God!

“The Beast was taken, and with him the false prophet.” Against the forward march of the King of Kings there can be no struggle, such as there was when the dragon warred with Michael in chapter 12. How the beast shall be “taken” we are not told: the King gives the order, and immediately occurs the arrest of these hellish leaders, the two men from the lost regions who had been permitted to return to earth to be the accepted leaders of a Christ-rejecting humanity.

“They two” are cast alive into the lake of fire. The word “alive” here signifies existence in a human body. It is not only a state of conscious existence; but life in a human body. (The Greek word translated here “alive” occurs in Acts 1:3; 4:41; 10:42 (“quick”); 20:12; 25:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17.) Our Lord’s use of the word concerning His own life after resurrection is seen in Revelation 1:18 “I am alive for evermore”; in Revelation 20:4, it is used for coming to life in resurrection, “they lived, and reigned with Christ.” (These had spirit-existence before.)

Furthermore, this lake of fire into which the Beast and the false prophet are cast (first mentioned here: compare Revelation 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8) is the same as the Gehenna of which our Lord warned the Jews in Matthew, Mark and Luke and through the apostle James.117

This is proved by comparing Matthew 25:41 with Revelation 20:10.

It is of immeasurable importance just now, that believers should become established concerning the nature and eternity of future punishment; also as to the distinction of Sheol (Hades) from the lake of fire; and of the literal character of the latter.118

The fearful fact that these two men in human bodies (Mark 9:43-48) are found in the lake of fire after the thousand years (Revelation 20:10) and are to be tormented ceaselessly there forever, should sober all our thoughts. When sin becomes absolute, it will bring absolute punishment, and that eternal.

Note that the “rest” of this vast horde of millions gathered against Jerusalem are slain directly by Christ: “With the breath of his lips shall He slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4—a kingdom passage).

And now, as the closing scene of the present order, behold the millions upon millions of flesh-eating birds clearing away the carcasses of the rebels against God and against Christ! One vulture or two feeding on some fallen creature is a hideous sight to our eyes. What, then, will be this awful line of corpses, of two hundred miles, covered with countless hosts of scavengers! Re- flect anew on what sin brings! This scene will come to pass!

      IV. Satan Bound for a Thousand Years

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time.

This imprisonment of the great enemy is the closing scene connected with the Day of Wrath; and, we may say, the opening scene of the coming age—the Millennium.

1. How completely God has removed the enormous power of this fallen head of the cherubim (Ezekiel 28:14) is seen in the fact that “an angel” chains him—not even Michael, the archangel, is needed, but simply “an angel.” What humiliation! The host of fallen angels, together with the demons and the world of men, during the preceding three and one-half years, had bowed to Satan; now “an angel” lays hold on him and fastens upon him a great chain! Again, as in Revelation 12:9—four names are designated: “the dragon”—that is, his hideous, murderous character before God; “the old serpent”—the ancient deceiver of angels first, and later of men; “the Devil”—the slanderer (diabolos), the accuser of the saints; and “Satan”—the great adversary of God, His Son and all His people.

2. He is bound for a thousand years, sentenced for this definite period—which, of course, will be the Millennium: we must remember that his presence and influence upon the earth will not in any sense be felt during that one thousand years! Praise God!

3. He is cast into the abyss; that is, the pit in the heart of the earth. Compare Matthew 12:40 with Romans 10:7; also with our notes on Revelation 9:1, 2. Afterwards he will be cast into the lake of fire, which is outside this earth entirely, when the present heaven and earth shall have passed away. The “shaft” to the abyss spoken of in Revelation 9:1 is sealed. He is shut within it—shut in his prison; giving relief to earth, release from all his deceits!

4. The fact that he must be loosed “for a little time after the one thousand years” should give us no surprise—for God would give the human race a final chance after Christ’s reign, to choose! One thousand years with Christ and His saints over them in peace; then the decision: will they have this Man to rule over them? or will they choose the great enemy again? We shall see.

Chapter XVIII
Satan Bound, The Millennium

Revelation 20:4-10

The Thousand Years’ Reign

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

      I. What the Thousand Years’ Reign Is

The thousand years’ reign is the direct administration of divine government on earth for one thousand years by our Lord and His saints. Its earthly center will be Jerusalem and the nation Israel, though Christ and His saints will rule in heavenly resurrection bodies in the New Jerusalem and will take the place now occupied by angels (Hebrews 2:5-8). Satan, as we have seen, will be in the abyss during the thousand years; and his “host of the high ones on high” will be “prisoners gathered in the pit, and shut up in the prison” during that time (Isaiah 24:21-23).

Just as the affairs of the world at present are directly, though unconsciously, controlled by Satan and his host (under the permission of God, but interfered with from time to time by holy angels sent of God, as in Daniel 10), so Christ and His saints will rule during the thou- sand years; generally, doubtless, invisible to the eyes of men whom they control. Yet the glory of the Lord will be seen by all flesh (Isaiah 40:5) and most wondrously and constantly over the temple at Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:5).

      II. Object of the Thousand Years’ Reign

1. Looked at from, God the Father’s side:

        a. It will be the public earthly honoring of His Son just where men dishonored Him on this earth and at Jerusalem. It will be part of the literal fulfilling of such passages as Philippians 2:6-11: Christ became “obedient even unto death … wherefore also God highly exalted him … that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow.”

        b. It will be the carrying out of God’s promises to His Son, and the prophecies concerning Him, to “give unto him the throne of his father David”—in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32).

“Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” “Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool. Jehovah will send forth the sceptre of thy strength out of Zion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalms 2 and 110). It will be God’s setting His King (Christ) upon His holy hill of Zion, in restored Jerusalem.

        c. It is the final divine trial of sinful man on this earth before the earth is destroyed. The trial of man began in Eden; it continued from the fall to the flood; it proceeded at the Babel dispersion; it was continued publicly, though on a limited platform, in Israel under the law; upon Israel’s breakdown, power was given to the Gentiles, from Nebuchadnezzar on. Gentile rule having been abolished at Christ’s second coming, Satan and his host being imprisoned, the trial of humanity continues for a thousand years, the question being, Does man desire God’s righteous rule? God would have all eternity know that the human race, whose head was Adam the First, not only did not in themselves achieve a righteous and benevolent rule or government of themselves, but did not desire such a rule, when executed in all honor and glory under Christ the Last Adam’s direction!

Men claim that they are seeking, evermore, a “perfect form of government”; but that they are not at all seeking such a government, but that they actually hate it, will be evidenced by their instant revolt to Satan’s banner when he is loosed for a “little season” after the Millennium. For we shall find the hordes of mankind rushing up to overthrow the righteous and benevolent reign of Christ at Jerusalem! The deepest sentiment of the natural heart is enmity against God; and this fact God will have brought out so thoroughly that there will never be a question again concerning the wisdom of taking governmental affairs out of unregenerate man’s hands, and placing them absolutely in Christ’s, who shares it with His saints.

        d. It will be God’s answer (so far as is possible before the new earth) of the prayers of His saints: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Millennium will, of course, be a mixed state of things, in that, although curtailed greatly, both sin and death will be on earth (Isaiah 65:20).

2. Looked at from Christ’s side:

        a. He receives, after long patience, the kingdom of this world which He has been constantly “expecting,” there at God’s right hand (Hebrews 10:12, 13). And He will reign in that righteousness which He has loved (Psalm 45:6, 7).

        b. At last He will be able to confer upon the meek of the earth the place and inheritance He ever loved to promise them! They shall “inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5).

        c. He will share, with that infinite generosity and gladness to which His infinitely gracious heart moves Him, all His kingly honors with His saints!

3. Looked at from the saints’ side:

        a. The Millennium brings the three classes of saints, (named in Paragraph III following) and also earthly Israel, into a state of indescribable blessedness! That iniquity is at last put down; righteousness enthroned, and a beloved Redeemer reigning—this fills the cup of joy for Christ’s own!

        b. The very physical changes made in the earth—the razing of the mountains, the elevation of the valleys, the changes in Palestine (Zechariah 14:9, 10), the blossoming of the desert (Isaiah 35:17); the specially built “highway,” and the way, called the “way of holiness,” traveled only by earth’s redeemed (Isaiah 35:8-10), all these reveal a little of the loving care God will have taken for the comforts and joys of His earthly saints at that blessed time!

4. Looked at from the side of the nations, the peoples of the earth:

        a. It will be a thousand years under an iron-rod scepter. Unregenerate man, having proved wholly unfit for “liberty,” will find it forever removed from him.

        b. Yet there will be peace at last among the nations—enforced certainly, but real. The one who rode into Jerusalem at the triumphal entry “shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9-11). This “Ruler,” born in Bethlehem, shall be “great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be our peace” (Micah 5:2-5). This “child born,” this “Son given”—“the government shall be upon his shoulder … his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government, and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom… . The zeal of Jehovah of host will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

        c. All nations will be compelled to go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. Most of the people of the earth will be yet unregenerated: for, time after time, in the book of Psalms, we read that because of the greatness of His power, His enemies shall yield “feigned obedience” (Hebrew, lie) unto Him. The prophetic- portions of the book of Psalms will then be fulfilled: for the Psalms are millennial, and primarily concern Israel and their Messiah-King.

For example, see the King coming (Psalm 45) with His Bride and His mighty ones; the remnant of Israel trusting through all the upheavals of mountains, islands, and seas of the tribulation time until the King comes to make “wars to cease” (Psalm 46); the jubilation of Israel over the arrival of the “great King over all the earth” to whom “the princes of the peoples are gathered together to be the people of the God of Abraham” (Psalm 47); and the glorious establishment of the temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem delighted in by Israel, and wondered at by the nations (Psalm 48). (Compare Isaiah 2:2-4.)

5. Looked at from the side of “creation”:

        a. The creation was “subjected to vanity, not of its own will,” but through Adam’s sin, which involved even the ground in a curse (Genesis 3). It was God who thus subjected it, looking forward to the day “the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-22).

        b. At the “revealing of the sons of God,” at Christ’s coming back to earth, this deliverance will be effected. The whole land of Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile, will be completely delivered: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah” (Isaiah 65:25). Indeed, the following passage seems to indicate that all the earth will be delivered: “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). What a marvelous prospect! Habakkuk 2:14 tells us that it will be “the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah” that will thus fill the earth. Man, with his littleness, will at last be nothing; “Jehovah alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:12-22)—a passage that should be read often in these bragging days of puny man!

6. The Millennium will be the time predicted by our Lord in Matthew 5:18: “Till heaven and earth pass away, (which they do at the end of the 1000 years) one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.” All those infinitely wise, just, and kind provisions set forth in the ordinances, statutes, precepts, and judgments of the law given by Moses, will be put into effect. Israel, then an “all righteous” nation (Isaiah 60:21), will have the law in their hearts—loving it, and in their minds—remembering it.

      III. The Order of the Thousand Years

1. Christ will be here in person—King over all the earth. He will sit “a priest upon his throne” (Zechariah 6:13). This is the fulfilment of the Melchizedek priesthood. Howbeit, it must be remembered that our Lord has a glorified body, while the saved remnant of Israel, and also, as I see it, the faithful Israelites raised when our Lord returns, will all have flesh and blood bodies—as earthly people.

2. While Christ Himself, as Israel’s Messiah, will thus be King over all the earth, and be seen “in his beauty” at Jerusalem in the millennial temple (Isaiah 33:17, 22), yet it will be on the Sabbaths (after the “six working days”) and on special feast days that He will thus be seen by Israel (Ezekiel 43:7; 44:2; 46:1-3): but David himself will be the prince whom God will raise up from the dead for this high honor (Ezekiel 37:24, 25; 34:23, 24; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). We must not confuse in our minds this situation. We must believe the plain words of God. David is not the Son of David. Christ, as Son of David, will be King; and David, His father after the flesh, will be prince, during the Millennium. See Ezekiel 46:4-12—the special worship and walk of the prince.

3. The Church will reign with Christ in glorified bodies like His (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3). The Church, evidently, is the first class of the three mentioned in Revelation 20:4: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them.” There is no account of resurrection; for they were caught up at the end of chapter 3 of Revelation. (We do not believe that they are the twenty-four elders who are seen only in connection with the heavenly throne and the four living ones.) It will be remembered that the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones “judging” the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28, 29). They will, it seems, in a beautiful way, be the connecting link between the heavenly Church and the earthly Israel!

The Church, in heavenly bodies (real bodies, of course, like Christ’s), will not interfere with the earthly order of Israel any more than God’s angels interfered with the Davidic kingdom in former days. Judgment, and not the mere execution of it, will belong to—be “given to”—the Church.

4. The second class seen in Revelation 20:4, is, “the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God.” These are, evidently, the martyrs under the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9. They are not the Church. They are, we believe, the martyrs coming after the rapture of the Church and before the class last noticed. Also, the word “beheaded” indicates the revival of the Roman Empire method of execution. These martyrs now receive their resurrection bodies, for the words “they live,”119 must refer to bodily
resurrection, and to that only.

5. The third class who reign with Christ are “such as worshipped not the beast,” which plainly identifies them as saints from The Great Tribulation time. They either pass through those awful three and one-half years, or are martyred. They receive resurrection bodies now to reign with Christ the thousand years.

Thus we are prepared for the great unfolding of verse 5: “The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished.” “The rest of the dead” are the lost, whose spirits are imprisoned in Hades, in the earth’s center, till after the thousand years.

      IV. The First Resurrection

1. We have been constantly told by our Lord and His apostles, as well as in Daniel 12, that there will be two resurrections of absolutely different character—one “of the just,” and the other “of the unjust.” Unto this glorious consummation—this “out-resurrection from among the dead”—Paul’s whole spirit was eagerly, striving. And it should be the daily, hourly anticipation of every Christian heart (Philippians 3:8-11).

2. Those partaking in the first resurrection are called “blessed”—which denotes their state of grace from God; and also “holy”—which sets forth their separate character and walk when on earth. Over such, the second death is declared to have no authority (exousia). The believer is not subject to judgment in the sense of endangering his eternity (John 5:24 and 3:18).

Their reign partakes of the Melchizedek character of Christ’s throne. The expression “of God and of Christ” is remarkable. Perhaps light is shed upon it by Revelation 1:6: “He (Christ) made us a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father.” It is the business of priests to carry on for others “the things pertaining to God” (Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1). This opens a wonderful subject!

And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Here we see the Devil loosed after the thousand years of imprisonment, and immediately rushing back to his old task of deluding earth’s inhabitants to that “war” against God, to which the “enmity against God” of the “mind of the flesh” was ever prone, but for which, during the thousand years, leadership was lacking.

“Over the breadth of the earth” the Satan-led hosts come against “the camp of the saints” (the Church above Jerusalem) and the beloved city—Jerusalem itself.

Now at last, the patience of God being exhausted, and the malignity of man fully demonstrated, fire from God descends and devours earth’s wicked hosts: thus ending forever the sinning human race!

Then we see the execution of the long prophesied doom of the damned. Antichrist and his lieutenant will have been in this fearful literal lake of fire and brimstone alive (i.e. in a human body) for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:20). They are seen, yet in torment. Now the Devil, the great deceiver, is cast into this same literal lake, into that “eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels,” of which our Lord warned in Matthew 25:41.

It is, therefore, most fitting, indeed necessary, that this revelation of the appalling doom of Satan and his two chief human agents should immediately precede the account of the casting into that same lake of fire of those responsible creatures who reject their God—of all choosing sin as their portion.

Chapter XIX
The Great White Throne Judgment

Revelation 20:11-15

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; and they were judged every one according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

1. The great white throne is not dispensational or governmental in any sense, but a final, personal, eternal assize.

This is evident from the fact that the whole present creation completely disappears before the Sitter upon this throne! It is also abundantly confirmed by the silence of those judged. They are not actors in any sense. Finally, the sentence from this throne is eternal.

Let us distinguish therefore the Great White Throne judgment from all those dealings with His enemies which God has heretofore had; as for instance, at Armageddon. Hitherto God’s enemies, though vanquished, have been permitted the opportunity to oppose Him, even after such an iron-rod order as the Millennium. Eternal, final action has not been taken against those who remained unregenerate upon earth.

2. The Great White Throne judgment is not what we upon earth call a trial. Not one of the judged is asked a single question, for the facts are all in! And the “works,” (upon which judgment must be based always) are all written in the “books.” Thoughts also are known—even “the secrets of men,” all have been recorded.

3. Only one inquiry is made—Is the name in “the book of life”? Judgment indeed proceeds: the “dead” are judged “out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works”: for there are degrees of guilt. But The Determining Question In Every Case Will Be, Is The Name In “The Book Of Life?” We cannot emphasize too strongly that this judgment is Not At All A Trial; but a Great Public MANIFESTATION of Facts Settled Beforehand, and Recorded.

Let us now proceed to examine this brief but truly stupendous account of the last judgment.

A Great White Throne.

Distinguish this from all other aspects of the divine throne; whether of Revelation 4 and Daniel 7, or of Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, 1 Kings 22:19, or Exodus 24:9-11.

Weigh each word: Great,—it is the Infinite before whom the finite must stand; White,—it is the unveiled, undimmed blaze of the divine holiness and purity and justice; Throne,—it is majesty unlimited, in which inheres utter right to dispose of the destiny of creatures. Before such a throne, creatures cannot stand; but they shall stand—even the lost!

Him that sat upon it.

We must, in view of John 5:22, 27, believe that Christ, the Son, to whom all judgment and the execution thereof has been committed, is the Sitter on this awful throne. But we cannot avoid the feeling that all the Persons of the Godhead are there! It is God as He is, in infinite, holy and eternal majesty; although unto Christ, because He is the Son of man, the actual judging and execution of judgment has been committed by the Father. The simplicity of the description makes the scene indescribably awful. Eternity is involved therein! The thought is appalling—to face the unapproachable LIGHT of God’s presence—UNFORGIVEN!

From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

It is no place here for impotent unbelief in its tearfulness to begin to plead that these plain words indicate merely a purging of the earth by fire. Peter declares, “The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Our Lord plainly says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away.” Paul declares, “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” And again, “Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only but also the heaven. And this word, “Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace.” The “kingdom” referred to, does not include the old material earth and the heavens, which pass away, but our new bodies like Christ’s, and such dispensation of all things new which God shall create after the old has forever passed away!

To hold on to this old earth when God says it will “flee away” and “no place be found for it,” is to become first cousin of the pagan who holds the eternity of matter in the past, and also is of one piece with the legality that professes to be justified by faith but must hold on to Moses as “a rule of life.” The Reformation theology will not consent that our history was ended at Calvary, thus freeing us from the “bond that was against us” forever. In like manner this same theology is afraid to face eternity with no earth to stand upon and no heavens to look to, but only the throne of God left! It is thus unprepared for “the all things new”—even the “all” of the material as well as the spiritual existence of the new creation of Revelation 21. The Lord Jesus came and “stood in the midst, the doors being shut,” and said, “See my hands and my feet … handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having… . Have ye here anything to eat?” Only faith looks with joy (though mixed with astonishment) on such a scene. Only faith can receive such words as, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away.” It is unbelief which says that the earth remains, although “its characteristics are changed by fire.”

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne.

These, we believe, are all unsaved people:

1. In verse 6, we find (by implication) that the second death has authority (R. V. margin) over those not in the first resurrection: which would surely put them in jeopardy.

2. Our Lord definitely declares (John 5:24) that those hearing His words and believing Him that sent Him, have eternal life, and are not coming into judgment, but have passed out of death into life. “He that believeth on him, is not judged” (John 3:18).

3. With regard to eternal destiny, only two resurrections are known in Scripture. “The resurrection of life; and the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29, Acts 24:15, Daniel 12:2).

That these “dead” have received their bodies when they stand before the Great White Throne, is evident from Revelation 20:5. For we know, from other Scriptures, that their spirits were existing in Hades all this time. And the words, “they lived” can then be applied to them only as to their bodies; just as the same words are spoken of the martyrs of verse 4, “They lived, and reigned with Christ.” We know that certain of these martyrs’ souls were seen under the altar at the opening of the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9-11 where they not only were conscious, but knew what was going on the earth; but had not yet received their bodies.

And books were opened.

If judgment of any creature is to proceed, it must be according to what he has done—his “works.” The works of those judged are evidently fully recorded. God will have a record even of the thoughts of every creature, whether its nature is clear to us or not—it will extend to the utmost particulars. At least, it will be in accord with the memory of the creature. It is a well-attested fact that every action and thought is recorded in the memory of man, however unable he may be to “recollect” a matter at will. In that day, God judges “the secrets of men,” and men will know those secrets to be theirs, their very own (Romans 2:16).

And another book was opened, which is the book of life.

The question arises, “What book is this?” Is it the “Lamb’s book of life” of 21:27; 13:8 and 17:8? The answer is that only those who belong to Christ, given by the Father to Him, are saved. Only such are in that book!

Christ is seen in charge of this book in Revelation 3:5. If there are false professors who have “escaped the defilements of the world through the acquaintanceship (epignosis) of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” who having known “the way of righteousness, turn back”; or rocky-ground hearers who “receive the word with joy” but have “no root,” who “for awhile believe, and, in time of temptation fall away”; who “taste (but do not drink), the heavenly gift” (eternal life), and then “fall away”; then the thought of being blotted out of the “book of life,” (seen also in Exodus 32:32, 33, Psalm 69:28), should not be in any wise a stumbling-block. Judas Iscariot was “numbered” among the twelve apostles, but “he fell away and went to his own place.”

In Psalm 69:25-28, which Peter quotes in Acts 1:20 as referring to Judas, (and which the context shows includes those wicked in Israel who joined then in hating Christ): “Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written with the righteous.” In these awful words we see that though Christ “gave himself a ransom for all,” and “tasted death for every man,”—thus giving to the whole race of mankind a potential place in the book of life: yet this fact does not constitute them “written with the righteous” eternally. In fact there is both the “blotting certain out” from connection with “the book of life,” and the refusal to write them with “the righteous.” They had refused Him who is “the propitiation for the sins of the whole world”: so that they lose that potential ransom-benefit all men had; and will never be “written unto life.” (See Isaiah 4:3 and Daniel 12:1.) It seems plain that “the Lamb’s book of life” contains only elect names,—“Those found written in grace’s book.”

There is the mystery of the sin of man which chooses to apostatize, but there is also the mystery of the grace of God which preserves the elect.

God does not want any true believer to lack assurance of eternal safety. Christ said: “I give my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish.” But let us insist on that other mark of Christ’s sheep: “They follow me.” If we are going on in our own way, then what right have we to assurance? Remember the “seal” of the “foundation of God,” in I1 Timothy 2:19: “The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let everyone that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”

And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them.

Now Death holds the bodies and Hades the spirits of the lost of the human race. Those drowned at sea are not different from those dying in any other manner. Death holds their bodies and Hades their spirits if they are unsaved. Therefore, the dead who are in the sea, appear not to be human dead. Satan, whose doom is described in verse 10, was not a man, but was the anointed one of the cherubim (Ezekiel 28). In the following passage from the prophet, we find two classes of beings and also two distinct points of time: “In that day, (at Christ’s coming to earth) Jehovah will punish the host of the ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; and after many days shall they be visited” (Isaiah 24:21, 22). This passage seems to teach plainly that Satan’s host will be judged at the great white throne judgment—after the “many days” of the Millennium. Part of his host is the demons, who seem to be the disembodied spirits of a former creation. It has been believed by many excellent students of God’s Word that the sea is connected with Satan’s host. (See Pember’s “Earth’s Earliest Ages.”)

And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.

This is a literal fulfilment of the prophecy in Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol: I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues: O Sheol, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Death is personified because it has a personal character. We have elsewhere remarked that Death is more than mere dissolution, more than the separation of spirit and body. Because Death in Revelation 20:14 is said to be “cast into the lake of fire,” it does not for a moment permit us to consider this awful lake as unreal. This monster, this first Death, is, together with that horrible jail, Hades, cast as things hateful to God into a place of eternal wrath. It is a guarantee to all holy beings that sin will never be allowed to invade God’s new creation. (This passage is difficult. I know I have not sounded its depths. I would be thankful for further light upon it.) Of one thing I am certain: It is that this lake of fire and brimstone does not and cannot lose in the least, its terrific literality, from this or from any other passage!

They were judged everyone (Greek, ekastos, each) according to their works.

To translate this “every man” is to interpret, not translate. God said “each”: which may apply to any, and must apply to every being who stands before that awful throne that day, whether man, angel or demon.

This is the second death, even the lake of fire.

The very brevity of this verse is one of the elements of its awfulness. The finality and eternity of this unspeakable doom—how they should be preached and cried aloud these days! It is not love, or faithfulness, to avoid them because they are such terrible facts. God described creation itself (Genesis 1:1) in seven Hebrew words. Here is described in ten Greek words, a doom that will never end!

For, inasmuch as this is the “fire … prepared for the devil and his angels,” we need only to refer to verse 10 to see the state of those who will be cast into that lake of fire:

1. They are “tormented.” This is consciousness and anguish.

2. It is “day and night”; that is God’s description of ceaselessness.

3. It is “unto the ages of the ages,” God’s technical term (from Galatians 1:5 on), for unendingness, whether of God’s own existence or the blessed reign and glorified state of His saints (Revelation 22:5); or the punishment of the wicked.

And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. Let us mark certain facts here:

1. It is not the absence of good works in the book that dooms a person. It is the absence of his name. Only names, not works, are in that book!

2. It is not the fact of evil works. Many of earth’s greatest sinners have their names in the Book of Life.

3. All whose names do not appear in the Book, are cast into the lake of fire.

4. All names there found in that day, will have been written before that day. There is no record of anyone’s name being written into the Book of Life upon that day, but rather the opposite: “If any was not found written.” How overwhelmingly solemn is this!

107 Thus the seven “heads,” or kings would have a double mark: (1) They would blasphemously arrogate deity to themselves (see 13:l); and (2) they would “fall” by violent means. The five before John’s day thus would be Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. The sixth, who reigned when John wrote was Domitian—most blasphemous—who was assassinated.

108 Babylon is named over 260 times in Scripture; 37 times in one prophecy, Jeremiah 50 and 51! It is more frequently mentioned than any other city except Jerusalem.

109 As regards idolatry being a post-diluvian development, consider:

1. There is no scriptural record of idolatry before the Flood.

2. The presence of the cherubim “at the east of the Garden of Eden” and “the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” would beyond doubt indicate a dispensation that allowed no such hideous caricature of Jehovah as idolatry sets up.

3. Joshua, in tracing Israel’s origin, says, “Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from beyond the River” (Joshua 24:2, 3).

4. Shortly after the Flood and probably in connection with the daring scheme of the Babel tower of Genesis 2, appears the earliest historical record we have of idolatry. “The discoveries of Nineveh and Babylon reveal that a secret organization of unbelievers was formed soon after the death of Nimrod (Genesis 10), at a time when open apostasy was dangerous, and that its members established their headquarters at Babylon. From this center they labored with ceaseless activity to confuse and destroy the knowledge of Jehovah in the world and to bring men under the yoke of demon gods. They soon became a powerful and influential body continuing to be a secret society, not wishing to share their power and privileges with any but those willing to pass through the ordeal of initiation, which included a baptism, after which the initiate was termed ‘twice-born’ or regenerate (Greek diphyees), and worship was originally offered to a trinity consisting of father, mother and son. But the first person was very commonly confused with the third, and at last almost entirely forgotten; so that the prominent deities were the mother and son. Of these the former was by far the most popular and has been known according to time and place as Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Gods, Mylitta, Astarte, Diana of Ephesus, Aphrodite, Venus, Isis and the Blessed Virgin” (Petnber—“Great Prophecies”). Mr. Darby remarks: “There appear to me to have been four sources of idolatry: first, an ineffaceable consciousness of God; second, deification of ancestors; third, the stars; fourth, the principle of generation. These were interwoven, at last giving rise to corruption inconceivable, the consecration of degrading lusts.”

5. The Scripture gives Babylon as the origin of idolatry which spread to “all the nations.” As Jeremiah cried, Babylon “is a land of graven images, and they are mad over idols. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore, the nations are mad … all the earth is drunken” (Jeremiah 50:38; 51:7). I have found no other final source of idolatry in Scripture than Babylon.

How fitting to Rome, the present form of Babylon, is the double statement that the kings of the earth committed “fornication.” “Rome’s influence over kings is a sort of personal influence, such as that of a harlot: her power over the nations is more distant, like that of wine. Her doctrine is ‘wine of fornication.’ Christianity is too holy, strict, self-denying, humbling for men by nature. Rome discovers to the nations a way of enjoying the world to the full, yet with the flattering belief that they are the servants of Christ” (Govett).

110 The correct reading of Romans 12:11 is found in the Revised Version:—“In diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; (referring wholly to diligence in the spiritual life, as see context)—rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer”; etc. “Business” is not in that at all.

111 “In what, indeed, does the mightiest and farthest reaching power on earth now already center? A power which looms up in all lands, far above all individual or combined powers of church, or state, or caste, or creed? What is it that today monopolizes nearly all legislation, dictates international treaties, governs the conferences of kings for the regulation of the balance of power, builds railways, cuts ship-canals, sends forth steamer lines to the ends of the earth, unwinds electric wires across continents, under the seas, and around the world, employs thousands of engineers, subsidizes the press, tells the state of the markets of the world yesterday that everyone may know how to move today, and has her living organizations in every land and city, interlinked with each other, and coming daily into closer and closer combination, so that no great government under the sun can any longer move or act against her will, or without her concurrence and consent?

“Think for a moment, for there is such a power; a power that is everywhere clamoring for a common code, a common currency, common weights and measures; and which is not likely to be silenced or to stop till it has secured a common center on its own independent basis, whence to dictate to all countries and to exercise its own peculiar rule on all the kings and nations of the earth. That power is COMMERCE; the power of the ephah and the talent—the power borne by the winged women of Zechariah 5; the one with her hand on the sea and the other with her hand on the land—the power which even in its present dismemberment is mightier than any pope, any throne, any government, or any other one human power on the face of the globe.

“Let it go on as it has been going, and will go, in spite of everything that earth can interpose to hinder, dissolving every tie of nationality, every bond of family or kindred, every principle or right and religion which it cannot bend and render subservient to its own ends and interests; and the time must come when it will settle itself down somewhere on its own independent base, and where Judaism and heathenism, Romanism and Protestantism, Mohammedanism and Buddhism, and every distinction of nationality—English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Turk, Hindoo, Arab, Chinese, Japanese, or what not—shall be sank in one great universal fellowship and kingdom of commerce!”(From Seiss; “On the Apocalypse” written in 1865.)

112 It is, we believe, evident that at the moment this great call comes for praise on the part of all God’s servants and those that fear Him, the small and the great, there are still on earth, in great trouble, those whose warfare is not yet accomplished. Hear Luke 18:8, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth?” There will be those on earth who are really God’s elect, but have not yet received faith. It will not be given until the first three verses of Isaiah 60 are fulfilled “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee… and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations shall come to thy light.” This is not until the Lord Himself is revealed in Jerusalem unto beleaguered Israel, until they “look unto him whom they have pierced.” “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven,” which is His pierced Person, and they shall at last, like Thomas, believe because they have seen. Moreover the whole scene of Revelation 19:1-10 is heavenly, not earthly, and it precedes the coming of the Lord with His heavenly armies to destroy His enemies.

113 Those who teach that Revelation 21, 9, ff, goes back to the millennial order, before the last judgment and the new creation, claim that “nations” will not exist in the new earth. But these seem to forget Isaiah 65:17, 18 as well as 66:22, where the creation of the new heavens and the new earth is connected with the perpetuation of the seed and the name of Israel. There are many prophecies setting forth the eternal perpetuity of that elect nation. And if of Israel, the elect nation, then also of other nations. Also, as seen in Revelation 21:26, “And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” We know that the formation of nations arose out of a judgment—at Babel. But the establishment of Israel as a kingdom under David arose from the judgment upon Israel’s rejection of Jehovah as their king! Our Lord’s royal title lies in the covenant with David, the king, His father. The idea that nations will cease to exist does not seem to be borne out in Scripture. (See notes on Chapter 21.)

114 Isaiah 2:12-21; 8:6-10; 24 entire; 30:27, 28, 30; 34 entire; 63:1-6; Ezekiel 32:5-10; Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 15, 16; Micah 5:15; Nahum 1:2, 5, 6; Zephaniah 1:7, 14-17; Haggai 2:6; Zechariah 14:1-5, 16; Malachi 4, 1.

These are some of the passages of the prophets that look toward this terrible Day of the Lord, when He comes to tread His enemies under foot, according to the Father’s appointment. Remove from your mind the thought of mercy in “that day of vengeance of our God.” An evil and adulterous generation today hates the thought of judgment. Sin is sweet to them, therefore is the sword of Jehovah bitter. Like King Agag, its prophets and preachers simper to their scripture-ignorant hearers: “Surely the bitterness of death is past” (Samuel 15:32). But the next verse says, “And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before Jehovah in Gilgal.” The false prophets of this hour—all the shallow “advanced” college professors, the wicked well-poisoning modernist horde of lying preachers, the dead denominationalists, content to sit in cushioned pews and pay a fawning puppet to preach inanities that never reach men’s consciences: yes—all the false prophets who cry, “Peace, peace,” when God warns of the swiftly coming Day of Wrath; arid all the Satan-drugged hosts of Christendom, content to hearken to them and lie down to sleep on the edge of the volcano of destruction: let them read such Scriptures as the above! But they will not. In the present day, Jeremiah 5:30, 31 is realized before our eyes: “A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means: and my people love to have it so: AND WHAT WILL YE DO IN THE END THEREOF?”

The forbearance of God is at last at an end. To prolong it would be to connive at sin! Therefore, God’s holy hatred toward sin is unloosed, in all its “fierceness.” He will send His dear Son, whom men despised, with the direct commission of utter vengeance! It will be a “winepress”—the bodies of men will be crushed. It is the winepress of wrath: “Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” It is the winepress of the fierceness of wrath—the words are terrible! And finally, it is “the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty!” Ah, how feeble are words to portray the unloosed fury of that dreadful day!

I found a great nest of hornets one summer, built upon the cottage porch. I would have been glad to observe their workings from the room within. But no, they challenged my every approach. I had to go in and out of the house by a back door, and even then they were annoying and dangerous. There was no peace; there could be none. After several particularly grievous attacks by these deadly insects, I took a fishing pole, wrapped the tip of it round and round with several yards of muslin, which I tied carefully; then waited night-fall, when the hornets would all be in their nest I soaked the cloth thoroughly with kerosene and lit it. Then I held that flaming pole beneath that hornets’ nest with relentless determination. The insects rushed out to burning and death. I left not one! This earth will have become a nest of hideous hornets against God! And God will clear them out! He will leave not one! Not one rebel will be spared (Matthew 13:41, 42). And Christ will strike first at Armageddon.

Gathered about Jerusalem will be “all the nations,” in a battle line of 200 miles, from Edom to Carmel (Revelation 14:20; Isaiah 63:1-6). And how our Lord will “strike through kings,” and tread down their millions, in that day! (Psalm 110:5, 6).

115 Mark the seven occurrences of the words: “voice of Jehovah” in Psalm 29, with the instantaneous might of the effect—for this Psalm is millennial—when “He shall rule them with a rod of iron.” This is “the breath of His lips” that shall slay the wicked (Isaiah 11:4).

116 The same “mighty One of Jacob,” who comes having “King of Kings” written upon His thigh, in that Great Day of Wrath, to establish His kingdom, touched Jacob’s thigh on the night He wrestled with him (Genesis 32), taking away his carnal strength! “For by strength shall no man prevail”—“Power belongeth unto God!”

117 See Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6.

118 J. N. Darby’s tract on “Eternal Punishment”; F. W. Grant’s book, “Facts and Theories as to a Future State”; Sir Robert Anderson’s “Human Destiny” are excellent (although Mr. Grant yields to the common absurd cry that the fire of hell may represent something “more terrible.” R. A. Torrey’s words on hell, in “What the Bible Teaches,” are true and searching. The best thing we have ever seen on the subject is the booklet, “Life and Death” by C. J. Baker, obtainable from Pickering and Inglis, London, England; and Moody Colportage Association, Chicago.

119 Alford truly says, “If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned—where certain souls lived, at first, and the ‘rest of the dead’ lived only at the end of a specified period, after that first—the ‘first resurrection’ may be understood to mean a ‘spiritual’ rising with Christ, while the second means a literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second,—but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, with the whole primitive church, I do maintain.”

Stuart says, “‘They lived’ means they revived, came to life, returned to a life like the former one, vie., a return to a union of soul and body.”

Elliott says, “The resurrection spoken of (here in Revelation 20:4) corresponds in every case to the death out of which it was a revival.”

Bengel says, “The first resurrection is a corporeal one. Therefore, the dead ‘became alive’ in that part in which they were dead or mortal, consequently in their body.”