Revelation 11

From the moment that God begins to deal with the earth in an open manner, Israel naturally comes forward and also the Gentiles as connected with them. (Dent. 32:8, 9.) We have had the twelve tribes scattered abroad and a measured number sealed; but the land of Judea and Jerusalem is the great foreground of the picture that we see here. “Rise,” it is said to the prophet, “and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” The altar, I think, clearly refers to the brazen altar; for the golden altar was included in the temple. “They that worship therein” are persons who are characterized by nearness to God. The altar was the expression of true approach to God, and they have drawn near Him. It was the place of the burnt-offering which marked the acceptance of the person. Now this shows us that here we have God owning a certain number of people on the earth as capable of drawing near to Him. “Measure the temple,” etc., meant, I suppose, that God appropriated thus far Himself (verse 1).63

“And the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (ver. 2). The Jew is owned to a certain extent by God; and consequently their city is spoken of as the holy city, and the Gentiles as those who were defiling and treading it under foot. But it is important, before we go any farther, to enquire whether there is any reference in other scriptures to this same period, spoken of here as forty and two months. It will not be doubted that the prophecy of Daniel is the book which most nearly answers in the Old Testament to the Apocalypse in the New. We find there a period mentioned of three years and a half, called in mystical language “a time, times, and a half.” Let us turn to Daniel 7. There we find the Gentile powers represented as wild beasts, having in part some resemblances in nature. There was a winged lion and a bear; and the leopard was presented as a four-winged witness to the swiftness of conquest men would see in the power represented by that beast. Every one knows there never was an empire in antiquity like the Macedonian under Alexander for spreading itself by rapid conquest; and not only this, but it had its roots deep, so that even to this day the remains of the Grecian empire are seen; and these, not exhumed as it were, but in living effects. The fourth beast was of a composite character, unlike anything that had been before. Upon its head were ten horns, and after them in their midst another little horn was seen by the prophet to emerge. This last takes the place of three others, and becomes the great object with which the Spirit of God is occupied, not of course because of anything good connected with it, but because of its deadly hostility to God and His people. Daniel looks at him more particularly in his political, and the Revelation in his politico-religious character. It is with this fourth Gentile empire, the Roman beast, and in relation to the Jews, that the period is given.

It does seem no slight hallucination of mind to divert these scriptures from Judea, and to transport Rome into them. But the cause is apparent. Men had been so occupied with the controversies between Protestantism and Popery, that they naturally looked through the scriptures to find something about the pope; and finding there was one person more wicked than any other (the antichrist), they came to the conclusion that the antichrist and the pope were the same thing. Now, it is true that they both do similar things to a certain extent; but when you look into the scriptures, antichrist finds his place in Judea, and in connection with the Jewish people, in a way the pope has never done. I do not say the pope may not do so; but it is impossible yet to apply fully and exclusively what is said about the antichrist to the pope as such. There is a future system of lawlessness, and a future person at its head, who will rise up against Christ in His Jewish rights and glory, uniting political power with religious pretension, and this in the city of the great King. There are many antichrists, it is true, and the pope may truthfully be regarded as one of them; but not as the antichrist who is to come. That is reserved for the time immediately preceding Christ’s appearing from heaven. He will personally affect and oppose the Lord Jesus, and will by Him personally be put down. People ought to be prepared for this; but they, on the contrary, imagine that Popery is the last antichrist, and that it is getting so decrepit as to be well-nigh sinking into its grave. But the Bible is clear that the most hateful development of lawlessness is yet to come; and that when it arrives it will carry away, not Popish countries only, but Protestant ones, and the Jews themselves, in its fatal delusions.

In Daniel 7 the little horn is said to speak great words against the Most High, land shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hands, until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” Now it appears to me perfectly certain that the “times and laws” in question here are those the prophet Daniel was familiar with. These “times” had to do with Israel’s festivals, and the “laws” with the Jewish polity or ritual. The saints of the Most High were those whom the prophet knew and was interested in; just as in Revelation 12 “the children of thy people” (i.e., Daniel’s people) are intended. This shows that a special enemy of God’s people in Judea who will arise in that day is here spoken of. He meddles with the Jews when they have begun to be owned in a measure by God. This iniquitous power wears out the saints of the high places, and thinks to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand. Not that the saints should be so given, for God never relinquishes them to the enemy: He may permit saints to be worried for a while, but He never gives them up. It is the times and laws that are thus given for a season, because the nation is not owned thoroughly till the Messiah comes. As yet it is only a partial recognition of their worship. These are then to be abandoned to him “for a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” You have this same period referred to in the forty-two months, which is exactly the same length of time, taking “a time” as meaning a year.

In Daniel 9, you have another note of time, the famous seventy weeks (verse 26). “And after threescore and two (or rather, after the threescore, in addition to the previous seven) weeks shall Messiah be cut off and (margin) shall have nothing;” i.e., after sixty-nine of the seventy weeks Messiah is cut off. Then an interruption follows on account of this; all the weeks do not expire. There remains one, the last, to be fulfilled, which is kept separate, like a link wrenched off from the preceding chain. You will observe that, after the death of Messiah the Prince, another prince is alluded to as yet to come; and he is evidently an antagonistic prince, a prince of the Roman people. The grave mistake is made by many, that this prince was Titus, who came and took the city of Jerusalem; but it is not so. The verse does not state that the prince should destroy, etc.; but “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and sanctuary;” and so they did. The Romans came under that general. But when we are told of “the people of the prince that shall come,” it is a plain intimation to my mind that there was a certain great ruler to forlorn prince connected with the Roman empire. His people were to come first, which they did under Titus; afterwards the prince comes himself, which I believe to be still future. For mark well, that the past destruction of the city and sanctuary is not included in the course of the seventy weeks at all. It is after the sixty-ninth, and before the seventieth begins. There was a chain, so to speak, of sixty-nine weeks of years up to the death of Christ; then it was broken. There was an important link, the seventieth week, remaining. What becomes of it? The last verse takes it up, and is clear enough that this seventieth week has to do (not with Christ but) with His enemy who is to have a manifest connection with the Roman people, and also with the Jews. Observe that in the twenty-sixth verse, after the threescore and two weeks in addition to the seven, when the Messiah is cut off, there is no mention of the weeks. In what comes after, we have no date, till we enter upon verse 27; showing that what intervenes is not counted as a part of the continuous line of the weeks. “The end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end thereof desolations are determined.” The city and sanctuary were destroyed long since, but the desolations are “unto the end;” and they still go on.

Till lately, of all people of the earth a Jew had the greatest difficulty to get into the land. There is a change coming over the spirit of the nations towards Israel, I admit. Some of the Gentiles seem to forget that the Jew is under a peculiar judgment of God. This is no excuse for dealing harshly, of course, but it is a grave reason why men should not meddle with them politically. For the Jew to be so mixed up with the Gentiles is a sort of apostacy, and for the Gentile it is to despise God’s judgment and eventually to incur it. It will be found that God cannot be with such an union. When the Gentiles have given up every thought of divine election of the Jew, I believe that the hand of God will confound their schemes, and that He will interfere to bring out His people distinctly and separately from all others, first for judgment and then for blessing. When all seems to be quiet and prospering, God will spoil what man thinks he is doing; for He has not finally cast off Israel. The Jew may have given up God and have amalgamated with the Gentile; but God will never forget that He chose the fathers and made promises as to the children. True, the Jews undertook to be His people and miserably failed in fulfilling their obligations; but God will not fail to accomplish His purpose. When the Gentile mariners had got Jonah in their ship, God was determined to have him out. If they did not cast him forth into the sea, God would break their ship to get His prophet out so as to be with Himself and His work. So it will be in the day that speedily approaches.

From Isaiah 18 we find that there is to be a partial restoration of Israel by Gentile power, chiefly through the influence of a certain maritime power “that sendeth ambassadors by the sea.” They may bring some of the Jews back to their own land, but the Jews will still be rebellious and unbelieving. All seems to flourish, but suddenly there comes a blight from God. Quite unexpectedly He allows the ancient enmity to break out among the Gentiles against the Jews. “The fowls,” as it is said, “shall summer upon them; and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.” Every kind of unrelenting hatred is shown once more. They are the dead body; and where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. The Gentiles who seemed to be so kind will again stand aloof from them, and as of old unite for the purpose of crushing them. And what will be the end? The Gentiles having relapsed into their old hatred against Israel, God will espouse the cause of His people. He refrains while man is meddling; but when an immense host comes up against them, in that very day “shall the present be brought unto Jehovah of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto.” God, as I understand the prophet to say, will bring a present to Himself of His long-scattered and persecuted Israel.

This will show how naturally in the Revelation we have a reorganization of the Jewish polity and worship, after the church has been caught up to heaven and before the appearing of Christ. We see a little remnant in the midst of the mass which were to be given over to the Gentiles. For forty-two months the holy city is to be trodden under foot. The Lord allows a certain period to go on as far as the many were concerned, but He measures the temple, and the altar, and them that worship therein for Himself This remnant might be killed, but He values them. When some of the Jews are thus in their own land, but Israel as a whole is not yet thoroughly brought in by God, the predicted Roman prince will come, who will “confirm a [not the] covenant with [the] many for one week.” I am aware that some apply this to Christ, But the Lord never made a covenant for a week or for seven years. It is impossible rightly to refer the words to any covenant the Lord ever made, much less to a covenant made since His death. “The everlasting covenant” is obviously the contrast, and not the accomplishment, of a covenant made for a week. Many apply it thus; but those who so interpret Dan. 9:27 have forgotten that Christ had been looked at as “cut off” in the previous verse.

“In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,” etc. Here we have subsequent events of a totally different nature. How and when, it will be asked, are we to suppose this arrest of sacrifice and oblation? Who and whence is the personage who causes them to cease? Messiah, the Prince, and “the prince that shall come” — are they the same person, or different individuals? The history ends as to the Messiah with verse 26. “The people” of that coming prince were the enemies of Israel. subject to an opposed power, and not Messiah’s people. In verse 27 the prince, whose coming was announced in verse 26, is himself come; and he it is who confirms a covenant with the “many,” or mass of the Jews, for one week; but in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations, etc. The language may be somewhat obscure, but at least it is quite plain that there is to be a certain prince after the death of Christ, — a Roman prince — whose people first come for a desolation lone, accomplished, and at length he comes. After that he appears upon the stage, the last week of Daniel begins. This interruption between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks may seem strange, and people may ask, How can there be such a gap? But it is not without precedent. The same thing in principle occurs in Luke 4, when the Lord was reading in Isaiah. The portion read was the description of His own ministry in Isa. 61:1, 2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. . . . . He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted . . . . . to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah. . . . And he closed the book.” He did not finish the sentence. Why? Because, if one may reverentially answer, the prophecy went on with “the day of vengeance of our God.” Proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord was what Christ did at His first coming, but it was not then the day of Jehovah’s vengeance; so that the whole of Christianity and the calling of the Church came in between the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance. When Christ came in humiliation and love, it was the acceptable year of Jehovah, and therefore He closed the book; but the day of vengeance is deferred till the Lord comes again in glory.

So here in Daniel, the sixty-nine weeks run on till Messiah is cut off, and then we have an evident gap. The destruction of Jerusalem is not included in the course of the sixty-nine weeks, and as evidently does not take place in the seventieth week. For if you interpret the last week as commencing from the death of the Messiah, this would only give seven years, whereas Jerusalem was not taken till forty years after the death of Christ.64 The seventieth week had nothing to say to that siege, and in point of fact the wars and desolations were given before we arrive at the seventieth week, which is not named till the last verse.

In the last or 27th verse a covenant is made. Did Titus, did any Roman prince, make a covenant with the Jews for one week? And further it is said, “In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” This shows that there is to be a renewal of religious service by the Jews at Jerusalem in the latter day. Sacrifice and oblation will have been restored; and this prince, in spite of the covenant made with them, puts an end to all. And what then? Abominations, which means idolatry, are publicly set up and protected. They are to be brought into the sanctuary itself, which was not the case at the past destruction of Jerusalem. Then there was much appalling wickedness — every other kind of crime and madness, but no idolatry. Here, on the contrary, there is supposed to be the open support of idolatry in the temple. This does not answer to the capture by Titus, nor to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ; for at that time the unclean spirit of idolatry had departed out of the nation, which from the time of the Babylonish captivity, excepting the defilement of Antiochus, had kept clear of such abominations, and in that sense was “empty, swept, and garnished.” But we know that unclean spirit is to return in greater force than ever. (Matt. 12:45.) Christendom and Judaism will each contribute to the last form of evil-antichristianism. You may remember that the Pharisees charged the Lord, when He was upon earth, with doing His miracles by Satanic power, and the meaning of the parable then given to them is really the history of Israel itself. The old unclean spirit had gone away. The people or their leaders were full of zeal for their ordinances. But what does the Lord say? That the old and long-departed unclean spirit was to return. And when it does, it will bring with it seven other spirits worse than itself. The Jews are to fall into idolatry, in union with antichristianism, and their last state will be worse than the first. (Compare also Isa. 65, 66.)

But let us now go back to the Revelation. There is this state of things in Israel — a measure of recognition on God’s part, and worship going on, though the outward profession is given over to Gentile oppression. And remark, that the Lord says, “I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (verse 3). The Lord mentions them as so many days here, rather than as forty-two months, it would seem, to mark His value for their testimony. He makes, so to speak, as much of it as He can. He does not sum it together, as when speaking of the beast (Rev. 13:5). Lovingly he speaks of the time as days, as though He were counting them all out. “They shall testify a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” — a testimony borne in sorrow. It is not Christianity, nor is it the state of things that will subsist after Messiah has appeared in glory. But it is the time of transition after the church has been taken away, and before it comes out of heaven with the Lord Jesus — the time when man will have brought in God’s people to their land, at least the mass of them thoroughly unfit to be in relation with God. There is a little remnant of believing ones, there is worship, and besides a prophetic testimony, but evidently Jewish in its character. In Zechariah, though there are two olive-trees mentioned, there is only one candlestick; here there are two, because they are the two witnesses who prophesy of the coming earthly glory, but who do not bring it in personally. That is to say, it is not the regular order of God, but a proof that His eye is upon His people for good before full blessing comes.

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed” (verse 5). This shows that it was not proper Christian testimony, nor the corresponding practical fruits. It was the very thing the Son would not do when He was upon earth (save, of course, in the figurative sense of Luke 12:49), and that He rebuked James and John for desiring. (Luke 9:54, 55.) Here, on the contrary, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies — a perfectly right thing when God is about to take the place of Judge on earth. But the Lord does not take that place now. He is saving sinners, and otherwise displaying full grace; and as long as He so acts, He does not desire His people to be the depositaries of earthly power. Thus, the miracles of His servants, during this time of the display of His grace, have not been of a destroying nature. The Lord might deal with a person now because of some sin, as with the Corinthian saints: I do not see why He should not at any time. But it would be foreign to Christianity and contrary to all that it breathes, if a saint, because another was evilly opposed to him, wished his death or injury. Christianity shows that the victory grace gives us is to show love and kindness to one’s enemy. It may be heaping coals of fire upon his head; but such is the Lord’s way — overcoming evil with good. Yet it is the Lord who here sanctions the destructive power which accompanies the testimony of His Jewish witnesses; for He says, “I will give [power] to my two witnesses . . . . And if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” it is what He means them to do — what evidently is to be done according to the thought of God. It indicates another condition, and not the Christian called to suffer unresistingly. It is the close of the age when Christianity will have done its work, and the Lord will again begin to act on the Jews.

Besides, their ministry and miracles have the same character as that which is attached to those of Moses and Elias. Thus they “have authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues,” as in the time of Moses; and “they have authority to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy,” as in the time of Elias (verse 6). And in fact what will be found in these times answers much to what you have in Moses and Elijah. There was idolatry in Israel then and a remarkable testimony of Elijah against it. God Himself chastised His people — the heavens were as brass towards them. So will it be found again. The person who then sways the destinies of Israel will be an apostate who admits and enforces idolatry. Again, Israel will be found in subjection to Gentile authority, as they were in the days of Moses; yet there will be a little remnant set apart for God. But although these two witnesses are guarded for a certain time by miracles, yet the moment the days are over they have no power, so to speak. The beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit makes war with them, and they are killed like others.

“And their dead bodies [shall be] on the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (verse 8). It is perfectly plain that this is Jerusalem. Many think it is Rome, because as has been said before, Protestants are absorbed in, and biassed by, their controversies with Popery. God attaches the greatest possible interest to His people Israel, when His rights as to the earth are in question. But why is there not more said about Popery in the scriptures? Because God never acknowledges His church as an earthly people. The politics, pursuits, and interests of this world are well enough for those who have nothing but an earthly portion and want no earthly intruder; but to strive with the potsherds of the earth is beneath those of heavenly birth.

We have now come down in this chapter to Jerusalem, the centre of God’s dealings and testimony, and of the opposition from the abyss. Their great antagonist is plainly mentioned here, for the first time in the Revelation, as “the beast,” just as if you had known all about him before. It is a remarkable power, not merely arising, as in Rev. 13, out of the sea, but here, as in Rev. 17, said to ascend “out of the bottomless pit.” This empire does not arise out of the earth, the symbol of a state of settled government, as the second beast in Rev. 13:11, nor only out of the sea, which sets forth an unsettled revolutionary condition. There is the extraordinary and awful feature added in this passage, that it rises out of the abyss. Satan has to do with its last state. It has been a darling project of men from time to time to form a vast universal empire. Charlemagne tried it, but he failed. He never got the old Roman earth under his hand. And some can remember another who had the same thing near his heart, but he too failed and died a miserable exile. But the time hastens when that very scheme will be realised. In other empires there has always been the providence of God overruling. There was God above them, God calling on His people to show allegiance to the powers that be, no matter how they were formed. The Christian was not to meddle with them, but to acknowledge them and to pay tribute. But there is an empire about to be formed, that will be as thoroughly under the immediate power of Satan, as all past empires have been under the providence of God; and God will withdraw that care and cheek that He has hitherto kept over the kingdoms of the world and will allow all to ripen to a head under Satan. Justly, therefore, is this empire said to arise out of the bottomless pit.

This corresponds with what we have in Daniel. The person that would specially meddle with the Jews (Rev. 7:25; Rev. 9:27) is the Roman beast, the leader of that very empire which in its last state God does not own. When Jesus was born, the fourth or Roman empire was there, and God took advantage of its decrees to bring the heir of David to Bethlehem. It was “the beast” that was there. In Rev. 17 it is written, “the beast that was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” (verse 8). But observe a notable feature that Daniel does not furnish, and that John does. He gives three successive stages of the Roman empire. It was existing in John’s time; then it was to cease; and last of all it should arise out of the bottomless pit, special Satanic influence being connected with its final state. The beast “that is not” describes exactly its present condition of non-existence. The Goths and Vandals came down upon it, and the old Roman empire came to ruin. Since then, men have never been able to re-organize it, because God has another thought. He has laid it down in His word that it is to be re-organized, not by man, but by Satan’s power. Its sources will be from beneath. How remarkable is all this! We have had the decline and fall of the Roman empire, but there is one thing that no historian could trace — that prophecy alone could and does give; viz., the restoration of the Roman empire. May we see it, not as being on earth, but as looking on it from heaven!

I believe that those who reject the gospel now will, if then alive, be carried away by the dreadful delusions of that day. They will receive the ‘ mark of the beast in their right hand or in their foreheads; they will worship his image; and it is written by God that those who do shall be tormented in everlasting fire. The world may fancy, from all the increase of grandeur and prosperity and luxury which will be brought in then or previously, that the millennium is come; but it will be Satan’s millennium. That is the fate reserved for these countries; for it is part of the righteous judgment of God, that where the gospel has been preached, and the world has trifled with it, even allowing idolatry for political purposes, He will withdraw the light and send them strong delusion And then Satan will bring out the man of sin. There is immense practical importance in all this. People may ask, “What is the good of it all to us as Christians, if we are to be taken away before?” Such a way of speaking slights what God has been pleased to reveal to us. When God spoke beforehand about the destruction of Sodom did Abraham say, What has that to do with me? God would have our hearts to be drawn out in praise and thanksgiving for His grace and His love to our own souls, but He tells us also the sad doom which awaits the world, and awakens the spirit of intercession as with Abraham for Lot for unfaithful saints who may be mixed up with it.

I would just remark, as to the two witnesses, that there is no necessity to take them as two persons: they might be two hundred. They are viewed as two witnesses (whether literally so or not), because it is a divine principle that “out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. God was giving a sufficient testimony. These maintained Christ’s title to the earth, that He was “the Lord65 of the earth,” and this excited enmity. “The beast” might not so much have cared if they had said “the Lord of heaven;” but they claimed the earth, not for themselves, but for Him, and men will not bear it.

Unbelief likes present enjoyment, and anything which interferes with this and makes conscience uneasy is hateful and unwelcome. And so, when the testimony is finished, and the witnesses are overthrown, not only the beast but two great parties of mankind are affected by their fall. “And some of the peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, see their dead bodies three days and an half, and do not suffer their dead bodies to be put into a grave; and they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them . . . and shall send,” etc. (verses 9, 10.) It is not the first or the only time that we have this distinction drawn between “peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations,” and “those that dwell on the earth.” The latter does not mean men in earth merely; it carries a moral force with it, and means those who are essentially earthly-minded, who do not in heart and ways rise above the earth. The dead bodies of the witnesses are on the street of the great city; and they of the people, and kindred, and nations see them there three days and a half, and do not suffer them to be put in graves. This was bad enough — being the malice of man against those who witnessed for God. But “they that dwell on the earth” go much farther. For in their case, there is positive rejoicing and making merry, and sending gifts one to another. And why was all this? Because it is said, “these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”

This is not a mere imaginary distinction, nor only founded upon one passage. If you look elsewhere, you will find the same thing. Thus in Revelation 14:6, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” there is the converse of what we have here. We first find the mass of the Gentile people, who show out their evil against the two witnesses by not allowing their dead bodies to be buried. But the special rejoicing is on the part of the dwellers on the earth, or the earthly-minded. But in chapter 14 we find God sends a solemn message, the everlasting gospel. And with whom does He begin? With the worst — “them that dwell on the earth,” τοὺς καθημένους, literally “that sit,” which seems stronger than τοὺς κατοικοῦντας, and then the message is extended to men generally. And on examination you will find this thoroughly confirmed by other passages. In other words, to “dwell on the earth” is not a mere vague description of men, but it expresses a moral condition.

But to return: God interferes. “And after three days and an half, the [or a] Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them. And they66 heard a loud voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them” (verses 11, 12). It is not merely in a cloud (as in the authorised version), but in the cloud. I suppose it was the cloud seen in the beginning of Revelation 10, which encircled the mighty angel. The cloud, the known especial emblem of Jehovah’s presence, was that which received the witnesses and proved that their Lord, the Lord of heaven as well as earth, was for them. They ascended up to heaven in the very face of their enemies. “And in the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” One word I would say, before going farther, on a remarkable distinction that occurs in this same verse. The witnesses testified for the Lord of the earth; but the people that were affrighted, when they saw how the cause of His martyred servants was vindicated, gave glory to the God of heaven. It will be then an easier thing for men to acknowledge God above in a vague sort of way, than to own Him as the Lord of the earth, concerning Himself about what men do here below. The former might be merely to regard Him as One seen in the distance; though in a higher sense I may know Him as One that comes down to give me a portion with Himself above. Thus God in heaven is either exceedingly near to His people, or far off to those who are merely acted upon by transient terror. The worldly man can well allow the thought of God afar from himself; and this is just what we have here. They were alarmed by what was near. But there was no reception of the testimony, no conversion. They should have bowed to the Lord of the earth. They gave glory to the God of heaven. But it is too late. There was slain in the earthquake “seven thousand names of men,” as the margin gives it literally.

First of all, we have seen the priestly remnant occupied in the worship of God — His holy remnant in the midst of the Jews in the latter day. After this we have the witnesses, who did not bring out on God’s part what He is manifesting now, but asserted His rights with regard to the future, as prophecy naturally implies. Another remark I may here make. In the Revelation an expression occurs that has often been misunderstood. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The meaning is not that all prophecy refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (which in a certain sense may be true), but that the witness of Jesus such as this book contains — what Jesus testifies in the Revelation is the spirit of prophecy. It is the Holy Spirit as He is shown us throughout the book; not bringing into present communion with the Lord Jesus in heaven, but communicating what He is to do by and by. They, the witnesses, asserted the title of Christ to the earth. Whatever men might say, the Lord was the one to whom it belonged, and He would soon come and make good their record.

There is a third thing that the end of the chapter contains. Besides a priestly place, and then a prophetical testimony, there comes the kingdom. The trumpet sounds. And now it is not, as in the case of the witnesses, a proclamation fenced by miraculous power — that has come to a close — their own blood has sealed their work. But if it looked as if the beast had played an easy part in their death God points to another thine,: “The seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven,” etc. There is the announcement of a kingdom, heard not upon earth, but in heaven, and therefore, as soon as it is made, those that had the mind of Christ, “the twenty-four elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God.” A little word I would desire to say upon this verse 15. As it stands now, it has a very weakened turn given to it: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” The true force is: “The world-kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ is come.” This gives, in my opinion, a very different and weightier meaning to the verse. It is the world-kingdom; and why? Because this book has shown us from the very beginning that there was another order of kingdom altogether. In Revelation 1 John spoke of himself as a “brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience in Christ.” Thus the kingdom of Christ is there, and yet characterized, or at least accompanied, by tribulation and patience! But the angel heralds in the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ, as to this world. Previously it had been one only known to faith and calling for patience — a thing consequently that the world would not believe. Talk to them of a kingdom where people suffer, and where Christ allows them to suffer, instead of maintaining His rights! And this is exactly what God’s children have been called to go through from that day to this.

But let me here say that this shows the extreme error of many good people who think it quite right to use earthly power in seeking to establish the cause of Christ. For, not to speak of Romanism but to look at Puritanism, they completely forget that the kingdom of Christ now is the kingdom of patience, and not of power. They judged because theirs was the right as they believed, therefore they ought not to suffer; whereas the only thing that God insists on is, that because the world is wrong and they right, therefore His children must suffer. Hence Peter testifies, “If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” There evidently you have the great moral consequence of Christ’s kingdom in practical things: a Christian is not buffeted because he is wrong, but because he does well. There is such a thing, even among God’s people, as the being buffeted because they have gone astray. What was the trial of Lot? And what that of Abraham? It was to prove that the latter was faithful; but Lot’s was because he was unfaithful. Not that Abraham was always true to God; but unfaithfulness with him was the exception, whereas I am afraid it was too often the case with poor Lot. No doubt, Lot was more happy in his outward circumstances. He was in the gate of the city, as we are told — sitting where he ought not, though where the flesh would like to be. We are not to suppose that he was drawn into the ungodliness of the community wherein he dwelt. No doubt he could expostulate very well as to the evil they were doing; but evidently he was in the place of dishonour, as far as God was concerned, though not in the commission of open sin, if we only think of moral conduct. He was delivered through God’s mercy, but ignominiously. His sons-in-law remained behind; his wife was made a lasting monument of her folly and sin.

Abraham knew another kind of sorrow, the sorrow of a man that knew God, and that had come out at His word. We do find failure in Abraham, as for instance in Genesis 12 and 20. But though there were slips, still — looking at his spirit and walk as a whole — Abraham was a most blessed man of God, and a sample of faith to all, as God Himself puts him before us in Heb. 11 and elsewhere. He knew trial, because he was true to God and to his calling. Lot knew it, because he was grasping after some present thing, a place in the world. And what was the issue? A blow comes on that part of the world, and Lot was carried away by it; and all that he had set his affections upon was swept away, and only restored to him by Abraham’s timely succour, to be lost for ever when the judgment of Sodom came. At the close a dark spot of shame fastens upon that man, and he had bitterly to learn that for the believer a worldly path is one of frequent pain and disappointment, which, if persevered in, ensures present sorrow, and leaves behind it alike seeds of misery and fruits of shame. We must have one or other kind of suffering, if we are children of God at all; either the suffering that comes upon the world, if we are unfaithful to God, or the sufferings of Christ because we confess Him.

Thus the seventh angel gives the signal that the mysterious form of the kingdom is at an end. Heavenly voices proclaim that this world’s kingdom is become that of the Lord and His Christ. Instead of merely having a kingdom open to faith, and that none but believers value — a kingdom whose earthly portion is tribulation and waiting for the Lord, the only place that hope can take now — instead of this we have an entire change. God will no longer allow the world to be the camp, and parade, and sport of Satan; and when the seventh trumpet sounds, it is announced that this world’s kingdom of the Lord is come. If it be objected that the Lord Himself in John 18 declares that His kingdom is not of this world, I reply that this is beside the mark This world is never the source of His kingdom; but is it not destined to be its sphere? It was not His kingdom then, but this does not prove that it is not to be His kingdom at some future time, when He will fight and His servants too, though in a new way. Here you have the positive word of God that the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come. The sovereignty of the universe is transferred to the Lord Jesus: “And he shall reign unto the ages of the ages.” Of course such a phrase as this must be taken in connection with the whole subject. When eternity is spoken of, it must be taken in its full and unlimited extent; but here it can only mean “for ever” in the sense of as long as the world lasts. And I feel, though it is not the brightest thought which our souls can enjoy in connection with the future, yet that the Lord Jesus is to take the throne of the world is a very great rest to the heart in all the present confusion. It lifts one out of the spirit of the present; because if I know that this is not the place of the church, but that I am now in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, I shall not be wanting honour or power in this world. We are to have a much better place in heaven, and the saints who will be on earth, when the Lord appears and we are with Him in glory, will be in the place of subjects. But what is the place of those who are in the kingdom and patience in Christ Jesus? We shall not be subjects merely of Christ when He thus comes, but kings reigning with Him. Even now those who are rejected for Christ are rejected kings. They do not merely sing, “He loveth us,” but “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.”

The Lord will have a kingdom suited to the earth; but the Jews are not destined to be kings. They will have on earth a very honoured place; but even when the nation is converted to Him, they will never have the nearness that belongs to every soul, Jew or Gentile, who believes in Christ now. Our portion may seem to unbelief to be a most trying one, and trying it is now. But the Lord Jesus has trodden the path before, and known suffering such as none other could. He has gone through it all, and when He comes and takes the kingdom, He will assign His sufferers their place. They will be like the near companions of David when he came to the throne; there was David in the cave of Adullam, and David hunted about upon the mountains by Saul; but it was David’s faith, as a means, that had kindled the flame in their hearts. They caught the tone of David’s soul; and though they had a time of sorrow, and there were many foolish men like Nabal who could taunt him with being some runaway servant, yet while David was rather quick to feel and too ready to gird his sword to his thigh, he takes a word from even a weaker vessel, and retreats into the better place of grace — the place of doing well, suffering for it and taking it patiently. And soon came the throne. What then? The poor ones that had known his path of suffering, and had shared his sorrows in the day of his rejection were now to share his honours. Where was Jonathan in that day? It is true that his heart clung to David, but his faith was not equal to the trial. And what was the consequence? He fell on the mountains of Gilboa with his miserable father; and he whose heart would willingly have given the first place to David, and who had already stripped himself for David’s sake, now falls with the world with which he had outwardly remained to the last. Thus whatever may be our affection for Christ, if I remain in a false worldly position, it will never be to my honour in the day of Christ, when they that suffer shall reign with Him. May we wait for that kingdom with hearts exercised by the truth!

It will be found that there are many persons who hear reluctantly about the kingdom of Christ, professing always to like something touching more on the immediate need of the soul. But does not God know better what we want? What we most need is not to trust ourselves, but the living God. Always giving the first and last place to the cross of Christ, may we not forget that His kingdom is coming. Though the cross is the only resting-place for the sinner, the kingdom is what cheers and encourages the saint in his path of faith and patience. There were those that followed David in his sufferings — separated, wherever they went, from all around. They were gathered from all conditions, and out of all parts; but it was being round David, and sharing God’s thoughts and purposes about him, which sustained them. Though God has anointed the Lord Jesus Christ for it, still He has not yet taken the kingdom in the sense of the world-kingdom that I have been speaking of. Having been rejected and crucified, He is gone above and we wait for Him, suffering meanwhile. But the day fast comes when it will no longer be tribulation and patience, but power and glory. All will be brought under subjection to Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.

When this is heard in heaven, the twenty-four elders rise from their thrones (verse 16). How sweet is this! Before, when glory was ascribed to God, or the Lamb appeared, they rose and cast themselves down before Him. They were ready for everything that exalted the Godhead. If it be as the Creator (Rev. 4), they prostrate themselves before Him that sat on the throne; or if they hear of the slain Lamb who is about to unveil the secrets of futurity (Rev. 5), they fall down before Him and proclaim Him worthy.

So here now the last trumpet sounds, “the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” is announced, and forthwith the twenty-four elders are on their faces, giving God thanks, because He had taken to Him His great power and had reigned. It is true that it must be through much sorrow for guilty men. For the sword of judgment has to clear the way, that the sceptre of righteousness may have free course. “The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come,” etc. But they knew well that, though man must come down with a crash, he will be exalted in the only true and enduring way in the kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed. And so they give thanks to the Lord God Almighty, “that art, and wast [and art to come]” (verse 17). I beg leave to omit the last clause, “and art to come” — not as a conjecture (for conjecture on scripture is presumption), but because of what the best witnesses for the word of God really maintain. The clause, “and art to come,” was put in to make it square with other passages which contain a similar phrase.

In the first chapter you may remember that the salutation was, “Grace unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” All these three clauses are from God. They assert that He is Jehovah, the One that is, and was, and is to come; they are almost a translation into the Greek of the name Jehovah — One who is always the same. A similar phrase appears in Revelation 1:8, only there it is not John’s salutation to the churches, but the direct word of God Himself: “I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” evidently pointing to the unchanging continuity of His being. In Rev. 4 there is a little departure from the order given in the previous passages, and quite rightly: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come;” not “which is, and was,” etc., but here, “which was and is.” It may seem a slight change, but it is not without meaning. The emphasis in Rev. 1 is thrown upon the words, “which is,” because God is presenting Himself as the ever-existing One. “Which was” is put first in Revelation 4, possibly because the living creatures (who had been the instruments of God’s judgments in past dispensations, as they will be in the future) may look back upon the past, and therefore do not lay stress upon “which is,” but begin with what God had been all through the past. Certainly they had been seen first at the garden of Eden as Cherubim (Gen. 3); next they formed a sort of representation of the judicial power of God in the tabernacle and in the temple (Ex. 25; 1 Kings 6); and then finally they were active when Jerusalem was swept away, and judgment came upon Israel. In Rev. 4, Ezek. 1, Ezek. 11 these living creatures, which had been the witnesses of God’s ways all through, begin with what God was, the perfection of His being as, if one may so say, it had been historically unfolding. In Rev. 11 there is the omission of the words, “and art to come,” perhaps because the arrival of the world-kingdom of the Lord is here celebrated, so that there was no need to add anything. Before He came in His kingdom it was appropriate; but it would be hardly suitable here. As I find that the best authorities reject the words, it is surely legitimate to try to show how the better reading harmonizes with the truth of God in the passage itself.

The general meaning of the next verse (18) is plain. “The nations were wroth, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged,” etc., all which was to be executed afterwards. It is a sort of comprehensive view of what would take place from the beginning of the kingdom, when the various corruptions should be judged, and during the millennium up to “the end,” when all judgment closes.

The three great thoughts then of this chapter, as we have seen, are priestly worship; next a prophetic testimony; and finally the kingdom announced in heaven as come. The Lord grant that our hearts, brought into the enjoyment of such privileges, may be with Christ, not merely because of the blessing, but for His own sake! Christ is better than all the blessings that come even from Him; and we shall never rightly enjoy what He gives, except in proportion as we enjoy Himself.

That the greater part of the chapter refers to the antipapal witnesses, crowned by the Reformation, though urged with confidence and with no lack of ingenuity, I cannot but regard as a total failure, involving in some places a sense not only different from, but the reverse of, the express language of the prophecy. Thus the giving of a reed like a rod to John is supposed to denote the royal authorization of the Reformer whom the prophet here impersonated. This is said to have been fulfilled after the death of Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, when his brother and successor John assumed to himself supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, and exercised it resolutely by forming new ecclesiastical constitutions, modelled on the principles of Luther, the example being followed elsewhere in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and afterwards in England. How singular that men of God should be so prepossessed with Protestantism, and so enamoured even of its blots, as to turn the word of God into a sanction of the very things in which the Reformers departed from scripture as widely perhaps as they did from Rome! I am aware that the application of the rod in this passage to the intervention of civil authority is at least as old as Brightman; but this ought to have given time for considering, and rejecting so unworthy a notion. Nothing can be simpler, it seems to me, than the truth intended. In prospect of the approaching divine government of the earth, Israel and their land become as ever the central object. The Lord therefore takes special cognizance of them, marking what He owns and what He leaves out. The outside multitude are disowned; account is taken only of those who worshipped within — a distinction far indeed from being true of Protestants in contrast with Papists. The reed was the instrument of measurement, not of gold (as for the heavenly Jerusalem), but “like a rod.” There seems an allusion to Zech. 2 (and Ezek. 40:3), with just such differences as in the reference of verse 4 to Zech. 4. There it is a measuring line ( σχοινίον γεωμετρικόν), and the entire city is to be measured. Here it is but a special part, measured by that which was not longer than a staff, which the Lord reserved as His portion during the crisis, the rest being profaned by the Gentiles for forty-two months. It is very far from being the due re-establishment of Jerusalem, but it is the little pledge of all that is to follow. A similar remark applies here as before. Precisely so far as the Reformers slipped into Jewish ideas and order, instead of falling back upon the true and heavenly peculiarities of the church of God, there may be an appearance of definite fulfilment. Had they walked in separation from the world, the author of Horae Apoc. must have lost a large proportion of his apparent identifications.

In the two witnesses, which is the next subject of importance, this comes out very clearly. Their earlier history is supposed to be retrospectively given, along with what remained to be fulfilled. As to their personality, we are agreed: they are not things or books, but persons who testify. But the testimony of Jesus, it is well to note, means not merely for Him, but the spirit of prophecy proper to this book. The gospel is not the subject. Further, the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks have nothing to do with the churches (or ἅ εἰσιν). That theme is completely closed, as we have seen repeatedly; and we are here avowedly in presence of the proclamation of Christ’s title to land and sea. Hence, as it is added, these stand “before the Lord of the earth.” In a word, the connection is not with the church-state, which then will have long past, but with the order predicted in Zech. 4, which undoubtedly refers to the millennial provision for the light of God in the midst of Israel.

Doubtless, there are points of distinction; for our chapter belongs in its full meaning to the interval after the rapture of the saints and before the thousand years. There is one candlestick all of gold in Zechariah, with its bowl, its seven lamps, its seven pipes, and an olive-tree on either side; perfect unity and perfect development. Whatever may have been the then historical accomplishment in Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two anointed ones of the Jewish prophet point in their fulness to the kingly and priestly offices of Christ, the grand means of dispensing and maintaining divine light in “the world to come.” Here it is only a testimony to these things; and therefore, as the least sufficient testimony according to the law, there were two witnesses. The oil here is associated, not with joy, but with mourning; and the witnesses are clothed, not with the garment of praise, but with the sackcloth of affliction. Avenging power is theirs, like that of Moses and Elijah. How vain to bend all this to the witnessing Christians, Western or Eastern, earlier or later! Their calling practically was to resist not evil, to love their enemies, to bless those who cursed them, to do good to such as hated them, to pray for their persecutors; and this, as the Lord expressly illustrated it, after the pattern of their heavenly Father, who, instead of shutting heaven that it rain not, contrariwise sends it in indiscriminate mercy on just and unjust.

Of course, on the historical view (which in a general way I allow), the days of their prophecy are years, and the judgments must be taken figuratively. But how, if it be pretended that this is all fulfilled? Had the Paulicians and the Waldenses (supposing them to be true witnesses untainted by heresy) authority to withhold the dew of grace all their days, or to smite with plagues as often as they would? To curse the earth with a spiritual drought is still more tremendous than if it were in a physical sense, even though their power embraced heaven, earth, the waters, and their enemies. I perceive, however, that an effort is made to escape the difficulty of the devouring fire that issues from them, by referring to the final fiery judgment on the adversaries (H. A., ii. pp. 203, 407); but what can be lamer than such shifts? Present judicial power, continuous or occasional, against all opposers is the true and full meaning: like Elijah’s in the midst of an apostate people, and like Moses’ in the midst of a people oppressed and enslaved by the Gentiles. But as their testimony is prophetic and not the gospel, so it is armed with judgment instead of breathing grace. Righteous vengeance guards the claims of the Lord of the earth. Heaven is the source, centre, and home of grace. It is in the vaguest conceivable way that a delineation like this can be made to suit proper Christian witnesses; and it is chiefly the mixture of Jewish feeling and conduct, found alas! too often and especially in dark times, which lends a colour to such applications. I hardly like to notice the fancied coincidence of the black goatskin of the Vaudois and the sackcloth, or of the motto of the Counts of Lucerna (lux lucet in tenebris) and the candlestick.

But now comes another obvious and grave objection to the scheme of the Horae Apocalypticae. The natural meaning of verse 7 of course is, that when their 1260 days of testimony have expired the beast kills the witnesses. But this does not fit in with past facts. Criticism is therefore summoned to substitute an ambiguous word, so as to convey that after their death many of the days may yet remain to run out. Difficulties are pressed, but they are not insuperable. For the witnesses have an exceptional place, and therefore might be miraculously maintained for their allotted period, while saints generally were suffering and slain. And the beast’s forty-two months might coincide with the 1260 days of the witnesses consistently with the brief interval of three and a half days’ exposure and their rise and ascent to heaven, the earthquake, etc. For what act against God or His people is attributed to him afterwards? I know of none. So that it might still be true that their testimony and his “practising” close together, while a short space might intervene before the execution of God’s judgments on the beast in the height of his triumph. In other words, the forty-two months define the epoch not of the beast’s destruction, but of his being permitted “to work.” Daniel entirely strengthens this conclusion; for we find in Rev. 12 an interval of some length after the three and a half years before full blessing comes.

It is extraordinary that a learned person should cite Gal. 5:16 and Heb. 9:6, as parallel with Rev. 11:7. For it is plain from the absence of the article that the first passage goes no farther than fulfilling flesh’s lust. That is it could not mean the termination of the whole career of lust. The anarthrous usage here is, in fact, the strong and needed assurance that walking in the Spirit is the divine safeguard against fulfilling anything of the sort. In our text it is a definite testimony, of which the length had been carefully specified; and whether you translate it finished or completed, the full time is, it seems to me, necessarily involved. The passage in Heb. 9, every scholar must know, has no bearing on the case, because the tense implies a continued or habitually repeated action; while the tense in Rev. 10 implies an action complete or concluded. Indeed, it is plain that to the interpreters in general this word has proved an insuperable difficulty. Hence the rendering of Mede, “when they shall be about finishing,” and so Bishop Newton. Equally offensive to mere grammar is that of Daubuz, “whilst they shall perform their testimony;” or the earlier view of Mr. Elliott,67 “when the witnesses shall have been fulfilling.” The truth is that, interpreted with simplicity, according to the regular meaning of the word and in harmony with the context, the witnesses are divinely protected the 1260 days of their testimony. Then, their mission having been completed, and not before, God permits that the beast should fight, overcome, and slay them. But this, applied strictly on the year-day scale, completely destroys Mr. E.’s interpretation in particular, if not the Protestant school generally, save that some of them refer a part as being yet unfulfilled to the future.

Manifestly the previous dislocation of the prophecy leads to the next error, that “the great street of the city,” or “the street of the great city” (verse 8), refers to Rome and not Jerusalem. Now, I am not disposed to deny that, on the prolonged view, such an application is left room for, especially considering the peculiar way in which the city is here alluded to. But this is the utmost which can be fairly granted, and it not at all excludes the closing fulfilment in the actual city wherein the Lord of the witnesses was crucified. The context seems to me quite decisive that Jerusalem is intended; for nobody doubts that, whether literally or figuratively understood, the holy city of the opening verses (the centre of the testimony, though in the face of profaning Gentiles) is not Rome but Jerusalem. It is agreed that the beast is Roman, but this in no way strengthens the theory that Rome is the city here intended. His making war upon the witnesses is, on the contrary, much more naturally applicable to a locality not under his own immediate jurisdiction. No doubt Babylon is the symbolic designation of Rome in Revelation 17, where Rome is confessedly the great city, and so of course in Revelation 14, 16. But Babylon has not been named as yet, and there is no reason why Jerusalem also should not be so styled; especially as the figurative terms, Sodom and Egypt conjoined, are nowhere else connected with Rome, and the fact which winds up the description (“where also their Lord was crucified”) points to Jerusalem.68 If it were said ἑκλήθη historically (or κέκληται, the present result of the past), there might have been more difficulty; for, though scripture had already likened Jerusalem of old to Sodom, it had not to Egypt. But the reference is to the moral features of Jerusalem, as it is to be in the days of the witnesses, and so καλεῖται is strictly correct. And certainly if Nineveh had the title as well as the Chaldean Babylon in the Old Testament, it is hard to see why, in the Apocalypse, Jerusalem might not have it as well as Rome, supposing that the context looks that way. Thus the question to what city our chapter refers must be judged by the conclusion to which we come as to all this part of the Revelation, and as to Revelation 10 and 11 in particular. The grand point is that the things which come to pass after “the things that are” do not belong (save in the general moral bearing already and so often acknowledged) to the present order of things, but to the transitional epoch when God is about to bring the First-born into the inhabited earth. Therefore He will then be busied with the provisional government of the world, and hence specially with the Jews, who are the prominent object and direct instrument of His earthly rule. Accordingly the witnesses, as we have remarked before, are said to stand before the Lord of “the earth;” for this is in question, not His ways with the church.

Hence, whatever may be thought of the coincidence in mystic reckoning between the not very truthful speech at the Fifth Lateran Council, (“Jam nemo reclamat, nullus obsistit,”) which in the skilful hands of Mr. E. is made to denote the extinction of the witnesses, and Luther’s posting up his theses at Wittemberg three and a half years afterwards, which denotes their resurrection, I cannot but regard the interpretation as forced an unnatural. The only unbiassed way of taking the account is that the 1260 days were fulfilled when the prophets were slain. What more absurd than to imply that, in spite of their death, they are still safe and sound for centuries afterwards, and that the sackcloth testimony on earth can co-exist69 with their ascent to heaven, understand heaven as one may? But once the Protestant scheme is made the exclusive fulfilment, can one be surprised that the marvellous explanations given to the earlier part of the chapter are only surpassed by increasing wonders in the latter portion? Certainly few councils had less claim to be considered made up of delegates from the peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, than that almost exclusively Italian assembly. Dean Waddington, who did not write for the purpose of illustrating Rev. 11, records that the Bohemian heresy “was again rising into formidable attention” at this very time. Who can think that the breath of the orator slew them? If they refused to answer the summons to Rome, John Huss had done the same before them, and Luther did so after them. It may have been want of courage; but Prague, Augsburg, and Worms were not the same thing as such a council held in Rome. I need not dwell on the enactment refusing Christian burial to heretics, the Pope’s extraordinary donation of — not the golden rose only, but — the sovereignty of half the Eastern world to the King of Portugal, the grant of a plenary papal indulgence, the singing of the Te Deum, or the splendour of the dinners and fêtes given on the triumphant close of the Council.

But the deductions from verses 12, 13, must not be passed over. The call to the witnesses is made a summons from the highest authorities to ascend “the heaven of political elevation and dignity,” and was fulfilled first by the pacification of Nuremberg (1532), and yet more by the Peace of Passau twenty years after. The cloud is conceived to imply that these political triumphs were the terminating result of Christ’s special intervention, and to identify the cause of the witnesses with the Reformation. The effects of this mighty revolution in the overthrow of the tenth part of the city, and the slaying of seven chiliads,70 are set forth as the fall of papal dominion in England, and in the seven Dutch United Provinces. And the ascending Protestants gave glory to the God of heaven, as on Mary’s death, Elizabeth’s accession, the destruction of the Armada, and the reign of William III. Thus, commercial and maritime and colonial power crowning Protestant England and Holland, it began to appear why the covenant angel planted his right foot on the sea, his left only on the mainland. Insular, missionary, England was to be the principal instrument of asserting Christ’s claims to universal dominion and gospel truth against papal usurpation and lies. Could one ask for more palpable evidence of the absurd and mischievous effects of a wrong system? To refute such trifling with the word of God appears to me hardly called for. And what can we say to the delusion that the loud voices in heaven, under the seventh trumpet (verse 15), proceeded from “the religious world of the great Protestant powers?” Or that its general indications coincide with the more prominent characteristics and concomitants of the past French Revolution? (vol. iii. p. 338.) We must impute these extravagancies to the necessity of the case; for the text requires that the last woe should follow quickly after that of the Turks (verse 14). Hence the desire to make out something in the seventeenth century, because of the great Reformation of the sixteenth, so as to fill up the great gap that follows. It is the more strange, as Mr. E. had already (vol. ii. p. 474) made the seventh trumpet to include not the events alone, that are preparatory to Christ’s reign, but the millennium itself, and even all other revealed events beyond it.

In verse 19 I think that the opening of the temple in heaven marks a new portion of the book, and that it is therefore connected, not so much with what went before, as with what follows; for it is clear that the verses before (15-18) gave the sounding of the last trumpet, and the announcement of the consequences of God’s taking to Him His great power and reigning — not the mere sway of man, but the power of God put forth in an altogether new way. There was a sample of His power, but not in connection with Christ, at the time when He fought the battles of His people and put down the Canaanites. But then it was exercised within failing, guilty Israel, without their Messiah; and consequently that power was often obliged to be put forth against themselves, and not against their enemies only, because God can never have alliance with sin. But now, under the last trumpet, the kingdom of the Lord God and of His Christ was come, and this is what the earth looks for, and the Lord Himself too; for He is waiting “till His enemies be made His footstool” Then the whole scene here below will be changed. He will come and execute wrath as terrible as His patience has been divine; and the effect will be that, “when His judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” There will be the presence of the Lord Jesus and the absence of Satan; there will be, not only the execution of wrath on the living, but finally also she judgment of the dead. And these things seem to be brought together under the same trumpet. All is anticipated from the beginning of the kingdom to the end of it — all the main displays of divine glory in the government of both quick and dead. And there evidently the subject closes; for the opening of the temple of God in heaven (verse 19) ushers in another and wholly different vision, which has not directly to do with God in His kingdom, but here first of all it is a new theme that comes before us.

63 The received text gives καὶ ὁ ἄγγελος αἱστήκει, the Complutensian, following several MSS., has the same words, thus — καὶ αἱστ. ὁ ἄγγ. Erasmus and R. Stephens had more rightly left them out, as do the Alexandrian MS., more than thirty cursives, and all the ancient versions, save the Arm. and Syr., which in the Apocalypse are not seldom encumbered with glosses. The present addition was probably drawn from Zechariah 3:3 through the scholiast Andreas. The elliptical construction perplexed people, and disposed them to adopt some such interpolation. Beza was the first. after the Complutensian editors, who sanctioned the clause in the common printed copies; and this to avoid the absurdity of the reed’s seeming to speak. But there is no necessity, as he himself admits, for such a meaning, if we do adhere to the best authorities. At the same time it is a mistake to say that the words are wanting in all the most ancient Greek MSS.; for A P omit and B has them, while C being deficient cannot therefore be cited.

64 If, with Ussher, the death of Christ be put in the midst of the seventieth week, it appears to me that the confusion is only increased. For, in all fairness of interpretation, the last week does not begin to be accomplished until the city and the sanctuary have been destroyed by the Romans, not to speak of a course of subsequent desolation. So that the Ussherian view of verse 27 really puts the death of Christ at least three and a half years after the destruction of Jerusalem, if the latter part of verse 26 is duly considered. The truth is, the right understanding of the prophecy itself leaves room for, and supposes, a gap of undefined length after the Messiah is cut off, before the last week commences. It is certain that the Roman invasion and the Jewish sorrows that follow, exclusive of the closing dealings of the coming prince, are not in the sixty-nine weeks any more than in the seventieth. The text itself therefore proves this long interval.

65 The received reading θεοῦ is not without the support of some cursives, AEth., Slav., etc. But all the uncials and most cursives, versions, and fathers read κυρίου. The former was probably due to the tempting antithesis τῳ θεῳ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, in verse 13.

66 The four best ancient uncials that are known as yet, ‘ A C P, with very many cursives confirm the received reading, which is rather strengthened, it seems to me, by the fact that elsewhere the book has ἤκουσα. For assimilation, under such circumstances, whether by accident or design, is far more probable than the introduction of a difference. If this be so, the sense is that the witnesses had a public and glorious vindication in the sight and hearing of their enemies.

67 Is it right to refer to Hippolytus, as if he agreed with Mr. E.’s idea of the witnesses making complete their testimony, long before the whole period assigned, or their own death? The very reverse was his belief.

68 Were the reading such as Mr. E. repeatedly represents it (of course through oversight), πλατειᾳ της π. της μ. (H. A., vol. ii. p. 409, note 4, and yet more incorrectly in vol. iv. p. 579, note 1), there had been no room for this rendering, which some very competent judges prefer.

69 The alleged case of Rev. 7:1, 2, has nothing, to my mind, in common.

70 Some readers will be curious to learn by what process of legerdemain these slain chiliads can be metamorphosed into the Protestant Dutch provinces which threw off the Spanish yoke. Cocceius threw out the notion first, but it was rejected by Vitringa and the more sober commentators, till Mr. E. re-asserted it. It is said that the Hebrew equivalent, alaph was used in the course of Jewish history for a tribal subdivision, without reference to that number, and even for the district in question. On this very slender basis, in conjunction with the old error of the Christian twelve tribes of Israel, all is founded. The fact is, that χιλιάς in the Apocalypse and the New Testament generally, is used in no such contradistinction to the numeral adjective. It is applied, in the simplest possible way, to soldiers, believers, and Israelites. It is said of angels, of men, and of a measure. Nor is there in the Septuagint the least real ground that I can see for taking the word in even one instance as a province, or territorial subdivision. Yet the substantive occurs more commonly than the adjective. The truth is that, according to the meaning of the verse, the seven thousand (or complete body devoted to death) fell with the tenth part of the city, not those there, and these here. And the affrighted remnant consists of the other inhabitants of the guilty city, in contrast with the complement of the slain in the sphere of the earthquake’s ravages.