Handfuls on Purpose
by James Smith, 1943
A well-known Methodist minister and Cliff College Principal, the late Samuel Chadwick, confessed that in his early ministerial days the Revelation was an enigma to him. He then set himself to solve it by reading the book through at a sitting, every day for a month. No wonder the book began to sing and preach to him, and that he discovered it to be a precious treasure-house of instruction, and a sanctuary for worship.
We neglect this book at our great loss and peril. Even in the dark days it acts as a comforter. Someone has remarked that "without tears the Revelation was not written, neither without tears can it be understood" (Rev. 5:4).
As aids to its right understanding note:
1st. We should come to this book primarily to find out what it says about the Lord Jesus, and not what it has to say about the future. Its key-phrase is its first five words, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" It unveils the Lord Jesus. It is simply full of Him. No less than twenty-six times do we find in it Christ's sacrificial title, "Lamb."
2nd. After the end of Chapter 3 the Church is never represented as on the earth. Between chapters 3 and 4 the removal of the Church must have taken place.
3rd. Chapter 4 and onward have to do with the Tribulation and last things.
Chapter 1, verse 19, gives its correct threefold division, the last again falling into three sub-sections.
THE UNIQUENESS OF THIS BOOK.
Revelation 1:1-9, 19
I. The Unique Character of the Book (1-3).
1. What is it? A "revelation," that is, unveiling of Jesus Christ—not a mystery. If the book is a mystery to you, that is a proof that you are reading it wrongly.
2. Whence came it? By revelation. Given by God to His Son (1), the Son gave it to His angel (note, His Angel—an angel specially set apart to look after Jesus— probably the one who ministered to him in Gethsemane), the Angel giving it to John (22:16).
3. Why was it given? To show them things that were to come to pass.
4. For whom was it given? His servant, therefore specially for workers.
5. What does it contain? (2). Christ's testimony, that is, either testimony concerning Him, or which comes from Him.
6. Why should it be Read? (3).
7. When should it be read? Now, for the time is at hand.
8. Special blessing to readers, hearers, lovers of the book ("lay to heart," W.), meditators ("keep in mind," Bullinger), obedient (keep).
II. The Unique Order in the Book (1:19).
1. "The things which you have seen." The Lord Jesus as the Glorified One (1).
2. "The things which are." The Lord Jesus as Head over the Church (2 and 3).
3. "The things which shall be hereafter." The Lord Jesus as the Triumphant One (4 to 22).
1. 4-11. 18.2. 11. 19-16.3. 17-22.
III. The Unique Introduction to the Book (4 to 9).
1. Salutation (4). John alone was left of the Apostles.
2. Blessing (4). Grace first then peace.
3. Doxology (5, 6).
4. Anticipation (7).
5. Self-revelation (8). The voice of the Son of God.
6. Explanation (9). He writes as a brother, not as a lord over God's heritage.
Note. "Seven Spirits," or sevenfold Spirit. Not so much the Spirit viewed in His individual personality, as the Spirit in the manifestation of His operation in the Church. Seven is the Bible number for perfection, therefore the Holy Spirit in His sevenfold completeness.
OUR GLORIFIED LORD.
A Glowing Word-Picture of our Glorified Lord.
1. Significance of this Vision.
a. Before John could be the messenger to others of the unveiling of Jesus Christ, he himself must look on the Lord in His glory.
b. Before he could see God the Father (4) he must see God the Son.
c. The Holy Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus (10).
d. This vision given to him in loneliness. One of the Lord's blessed compensations.
e. And to one who was suffering for Christ's sake. Life is full of compensations.
2. John Heard before he Saw—the value of the Word of God. What right have we to ask God to reveal Himself if we neglect the Bible?
I. The Lord (1:9-18).
1. What we Know of the Lord Through this Vision. The Lord shown in kingly and priestly dignity:
a. Voice (10, 15), clearness; musical; significant of great majesty.
b. Priestly garb.
c. Girded. Active service; breast, not loins. Royal repose and priestly calm.
d. Belt. Golden. Kingly dignity.
e. Head and hairs (14). Eternity and Divinity (see Daniel 7:9). Sometimes white hair is one result of great sorrows. None ever suffered as He.
f. Eyes. Searching, penetrating.
g. Feet. Hot to burn, heavy to tread.
h. Hand (16), mouth. Power of His Word.
2. What we Know of the Lord Through His Titles.
a. He is Jehovah (4). The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New.
b. Faithful witness (5). Oh, so faithful!
c. "First begotten" (5). A title of dignity and honor.
d. Prince (5).
e. Alpha and Omega (8, 11, 17).
f. Almighty (8).
g. Son of Man (13).
h. The Living One (18).
3. What we Know of the Lord Through His Action. This grand vision gives us indeed the Lord Jesus clothed with majesty, and wielding supreme power, but it also shows us the old love and tenderness (17), the very same Jesus.
II. The Church (12).
1. Golden. Matchless Value. Cannot rust.
2. Lampstands. No light in themselves. How dependent upon Him.
a. Emblem of a unity not formal, but real.
b. Not uniformity, but oneness in diversity.
c. Oneness not by any external connection.
4. Lord in the Midst:
a. Not indifferent.
b. Not forsaking his unfaithful Church.
III. The Officials (16). Stars.
1. Symbol of Authority.
2. Symbol of Talent. Having star-like gifts.
3. Stars are for the Darkness. Stars, like men, are for the dark days.
4. Held in the Hand of Christ. Prominence in Christian work exposes to special temptation, but special privilege is granted. He holds us up.
Alpha and Omega. In 1893 Moody conducted a great Gospel Campaign at the Chicago Exhibition. Dr. A. J. Gordon lodged in the same house as Rabinowitz of Russia, who one day said: "Do you know what questionings and controversies the Jews have kept up over Zechariah 12:10? 'They shall look upon Me (Aleph-Tev in the Hebrew) whom they have pierced.' They will not admit that it is Jehovah whom they pierced. Hence the dispute about the Whom. But do you notice that this word is simply the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Do you wonder, then that I was filled with awe and astonishment when I opened Rev. 1:7-8, and read these words of Zechariah, now quoted by John. Jesus seemed to say to me, 'Do you doubt who it is whom you pierced? I, Jesus, am the Aleph-Tev, the Alpha Omega, Jehovah Almighty.'"
Threefold Portrait of Jesus. In Rev. 1 we have a threefold portrait of Jesus:
1st. Prophet. His prediction (1:1).
2nd. Priest. His garment down to foot (1:13).
3rd. King. His golden belt (1:13).
"Fell at His Feet as Dead" (17). Any drawing near to God which does not bring us down to the earth in deepest abasement and self-emptying must be mere imagination.
THE MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES.
Revelation 2 and 3
Angel means Messenger. The Angel of the Church is a title borrowed from the Jewish Synagogue, and was the name given to the prominent official there. The Angel of the Church was the one in charge. In addressing in the first instance the Angel of the Church, we have the Lord's wonderful courtesy to the responsible official.
I. Ephesus. The Serving Church (2:1-7). Fault: Decaying love.
1. Introduction (1).
2. Recognition (2, 3). Their service, character and doctrine seemed right. Good discipline and loyalty.
3. Warning (4, 5). Language of wounded friendship. He finds a servant where He looks for a bride.
4. Commendation (6).
5. Promise (7).
II. Smyrna. The Suffering Church (2:8-11). No fault; all praise.
1. The briefest of these addresses is to Smyrna.
2. Proud of their antiquity, He declared He was of greater antiquity: "First and last" (8).
3. They were suffering, but He had plumbed to the depths of suffering: "Was dead, and is alive" (8).
4. He was the All-knowing One (9).
5. He was One whose standards of valuation differed from that of the world's: "You are rich" (9).
6. He warns of worse times to follow (10).
7. He encourages to loyalty, even to death (10).
III. Pergamos. The Compromising Church (2:12-17). Tolerating evil in their midst.
1. Introduced Himself in His Judicial character (12).
2. He recognized their special sinful environment (13). Pergamos was a special center of Heathen Worship.
3. He praised them for their loyalty (13).
4. He warned them of the presence of sinful men in their midst (14,15).
5. He urges to repentance (16), warning of the result of non-repentance.
6. He promises:
a. Special sustenance, and
b. Special friendship (17).
7. Sharp Sword. At Pergamos dwelt the Roman Governor of that province, who alone had the right of wielding the sword. But Jesus has a unique sword (16).
IV. Thyatira. The Church in Peril (2:18-29). Permitted a false teacher to occupy an honored position. At Thyatira we find a Church which, along with much faithfulness and energy of service, is most seriously affected with false teaching. And one of these false teachers was allowed to occupy an important official position in the Church.
1. Place of little importance.
2. To this obscure and unimportant Church the Risen Lord describes Himself in terms of the most exalted majesty, and conveys a promise of the most exalted power.
3. "Your wife, Jezebel" (R.V.).
4. Only letter in which a woman is mentioned.
5. And in which the Lord declares so clearly his Sonship.
a. The Introduction (18).
b. The Commendation (19). "You have toiled harder than you did at first" (Weymouth).
c. The Warning (20-23).
I. Identity of false teaching,
ii. Judgment on false teaching.
d. Admonition (24, 25).
e. Blessings for overcomers (26-29).
V. Sardis. The Church in Death (3:1-6). Fault: Lost their hold of Christ.
1. Sad condition (1).
2. Steps that led to that sad condition:
a. Defiled garments (4).
b. Fell asleep. "Waken up!"
c. Dead minister.
3. Penalty on such (3).
4. Steps to Recovery:
a. Rouse yourselves.
b. Look after the dying things.
d. There is a Spirit.
e. Glorious reward (5).
I. Not blot out.
ii. Name confessed. Mentioned in Despatches,
iii. Walk with Him in white.
VI. Philadelphia. The Church of the One Talent (3:7-13). Characteristic: Faithfulness to God's Word. There were only two of the seven Churches which received no censure or rebuke from the Lord—Smyrna and Philadelphia. The former receives but little praise, though much sympathy; the latter stands alone in the abundance and unalloyed character of the eulogy which Christ passes upon it.
(1) Not that they were perfect; only "a little strength" (8).
(2) Not that they were beyond need of warning.
1. The Eulogiser (7).
a. Character. Perfect holiness and perfect truth.
b. Authority. Keys of David.
2. The Eulogised. Why?
a. A little strength (8).
b. Guarded and loved His Word (8, 10).
c. Confessed name (8).
3. The Promise.
a. Opened door.
b. Respect of others.
VII. Laodicea. The Lukewarm Church (3:14-22). Characteristic: Self-centered and self-satisfied.
Note. Remarkable that the first and last Church suffered from the same disease of spiritual declension, only the former was in the germ, and the latter fully developed.
1. The Lord's Character (14). Amen. Witness. Originator.
2. The Lord's Diagnosis (15, 17).
3. The Lord's Preference (15).
4. The Lord's Threat (16).
5. The Lord's Counsel (18).
6. The Lord's Appeal (19).
7. The Lord's Attitude (20).
8. The Lord's Reward (20, 21).
THE HEAVENLY COURT OF THE KING OF KINGS.
1. The Fact of Christ's Sovereignty and Power a great comfort. This is revealed here.
a. Dr. Dale mentions in one of his works that, in a time of great bodily weakness and depression, when suffering from a serious illness, he sought to stay his soul on Scripture promises that reminded him of our Lord's love and tenderness, but they failed to comfort him.
b. Then, trying to dwell on the fact of Christ's Power and Sovereignty, he found a strange support on which he could rest.
c. When the Boxer Riots broke out in China, and the leaders of the China Inland Mission came to their office one morning, dreading at any moment to receive tidings of disaster, someone discovered that the day text on the wall was a promise based on the fact that the Lord is King. The words brought the needed sense of reassurance and strength, and they were able to turn to their usual work, sure that all would be overruled for good.
d. The fact of the Divine Sovereignty steadies.
e. That is the view Revelation gives of the Lord.
f. This is the thought we need for dark days.
g. Also the assurance of the ultimate victory of good over evil.
2. Also in this section of Revelation (4 to end) we have the assurance of the ultimate victory of good—God.
3. This chapter begins the third great section of Revelation.
4. The scene shifts from earth to Heaven.
5. We are introduced to the glorious Audience Chamber of the Great King.
6. Everything speaks of Royalty.
I. The Opened Heaven (1).
1. There are Five Openings mentioned in Bible: An opened Heaven:
a. In Judgment (Genesis 7:11),
b. In Blessing (Malachi 3:10).'
c. For the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21).
d. For a sight of Jesus (Acts 7:56).
e. Lord as Conqueror (Rev. 4:1; 19:11).
2. "Come Up." We cannot apprehend the highest truth if we live on a low plane of thought and conduct.
II. The One on the Throne (2, 3). "He saw the Almighty high and lifted up, throned above all worlds, veiled in light unapproachable, yet known, His presence scintillating with the brilliance of the diamond, glowing like a cornelian, with the concentrated redness of a furnace, and yet over-arched with fresh and living green, as of an emerald. Blinding brilliancy; the glow of a consuming fire; the soft radiance of rainbow promise; these were the contrasted elements in the impression made upon the seer by the vision of Him who sat upon the throne."
1. "Enrapt in the Spirit"
2. The two opposites in Him.
a. He who was Sardine under the Law has ended as Jasper by the Revelation of His Son.
b. Holiness and wrath.
c. Sardine as well as Jasper. Never know all of Him.
a. Complete circle. Covenant sign.
III. The Ones Before the Throne (4-8).
1. The Elders (4, 5), heads of angelic ranks.
2. The Living Ones (6-8).
a. A sea of crystal, not water. No cleansing in Heaven.
b. A combination of Seraphim and Cherubim, combining:
I. Royalty and boldness of lion,
ii. Usefulness of calf,
iii. Intelligence of man,
iv. Spirituality and soaring quality of eagle.
IV. The Song of Creation (8-11).
1. The Holiness of God.
2. The Sovereignty of God.
3. The Almightiness of God.
4. The Timelessness of God,
THE LAMB AND THE BOOK.
I. The Book (1-4). Note
a. Not the book of life—that is already the Lamb's.
b. It is the Book of Judgment—the book of the secret acts of God.
1. It is a Sealed Book. Its secrets known only to God.
a. In Daniel 12:1-3 we read of the Great Tribulation. But Daniel is not permitted to do more than make known that fact, not the particulars. Hence Daniel 12:4.
b. The Book is about to be unsealed and particulars made known.
c. But even John is not allowed to reveal all he saw (Rev. 10:4).
2. It is A Completed, Filled up Book.
a. It was written on both sides.
b. Therefore no space for further writing.
c. It contained the whole counsel of God.
d. The designs and methods of God during the Great Tribulation are fixed and made a matter of record, and this record is known to none but Himself.
3. It is a Book to be only Opened by One Worthy.
a. The possession of God's secrets is a privilege conditional on personal worthiness.
b. No one was found worthy either in Heaven or earth.
c. Does the fact of the unworthiness of man cause us to weep?
4. The Book—
a. Of Life. A register of names (Rev. 3:5).
b. Of Works. A register of works (Rev. 20:12).
c. Of God's Judgments. A register of God's punishments (Rev. 5.).
II. The Lamb (5,6).
1. The Supremacy of the Lord Jesus. "In midst."
2. The Pre-eminence of the Lord Jesus.
3. The Power of the Lord Jesus.
4. The Wisdom of the Lord Jesus.
Seven Horns. Completeness of strength. Seven Eyes. Completeness of wisdom.
5. The Ministry of the Lord Jesus.
6. The Kingliness of the Lord Jesus.
7. The Uniqueness of the Lord Jesus.
"Root of David" (a son father of his father).
8. The Worship of the Lord Jesus.
III. The New Song. Song of Redemption.
1. Price. Blood.
2. Objects. "Men of every," etc.
3. Purpose. "For God."
4. Result. Kings and priests.
5. Glory. Only to Lord.
THE RAINBOW IN HEAVEN.
1. Murray M'Cheyne, but a while after he began his ministry, had a most serious illness. When convalescent he wrote: "Ah, there is nothing like a calm look into the Eternal World to teach us the emptiness of self-seeking and vain-glory, to teach us the preciousness of Christ who is called the Tried Stone."
2. Many can bear similar testimony. The world, with all its pomp, ambition, strife, pride, and vain-glory, has never been the same to you, indeed has lost its charm since that serious illness when you had a near look into the Eternal.
3. We believe it to be the Lord's mind that, assisted by God's Word here and God's Spirit, we should have a calm look into the opened Heaven.
4. It seems out of fashion to meditate about Heaven. But we are quite willing for the time being, to be out of the fashion. For some years Heaven seems very near and very real. For we could say with Samuel Rutherford: "Christ has come and run away to Heaven with my heart and my love, so that neither heart nor love is mine." One by one our best treasures are being taken there.
5. What a thrilling description does John give here. He has had an interview with the Son of God; now the Seer is introduced to the Audience Chamber of the Great King. He saw the Heavenly Court of the King of kings, in the center the Almighty, "high and lifted up, throned above all worlds, veiled in light unapproachable yet known, His Presence scintillating with the brilliance of the diamond, glowing like a cornelian, with the concentrated redness of a furnace, and yet overarched with fresh and living green as of an emerald. Blinding brilliancy, the glow of a consuming fire, the soft radiance of rainbow promise, these were the contrasted elements in the impression made upon the Seer by the vision of 'Him who sat upon the Throne.'"
6. As we gaze at that marvelous scene so realistically portrayed to us, let our eyes rest for a moment on the rainbow. Have you ever seen the like?
7. The rainbow we are familiar with is indeed one of the most beautiful things in nature. It usually appears when a storm of rain is about to cease, and is caused by drops of water in a cloud breaking up the rays of light.
8. We were at sea. On every side save one, naught was to be seen save sea and sky meeting in loving embrace. On our left could just be discerned in dim outline some of the Welsh mountains. Suddenly the sky became black and lowering and rain fell copiously. But all at once from the dark bosom of the thundercloud a rainbow—that Heavenly flower of light, opened its seven leaves of colored light. It was a ravishing sight.
9. But while our eyes were fastened on that lovely thing, this text came into mind. Ah, no earthly rainbow in spite of all its glory, was ever arrayed like this.
10. Note some of the distinguishing points of difference.
11. But, before doing so, let us look:
1st. At the Rainbow in Genesis—in sky, on earth (Genesis 9:9-17).
2nd. At the Rainbow in Ezekiel—in wilderness (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
3rd. At the Rainbow in Revelation—in Heaven (Rev. 4:3).
I. It Appears In Heaven as a Prelude to the Storm.
1. Not so the rainbow we are familiar with. That appeared for the first time after the awful deluge, as a token or pledge of the promise of God never again to drown all the earth by a flood of water.
2. By a study of God's Word we see that there is an awful time ahead, a time of fiery judgment. The prophets refer to it with bated breath as that great and dreadful day of the Lord.
"Behold, He comes with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Rev. 1:7). "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
3. Well might we cry in trumpet tones: "Flee from the wrath to come."
II. In Heaven the Rainbow is Green.
1. Ours consists of the seven prismatic colors, but in Heaven all colors are blended into one, its emerald greenness absorbing, or at least throwing into shade, its other and varied hues.
2. Yes, all the colors are blended into one, and that the softest and most refreshing of all hues to the eyes. For there is in green something on which the eye does not fear but loves to rest.
3. You have been hard at work all day, your eyes are weary, and your brain tired, and you take a short walk in the park. As your eyes rest upon the green grass and foliage they are rested and renewed and refreshed.
4. And so, as the eyes of the believer rests upon the Throne of God he finds rest and comfort there, for though it be a Throne of Judgment, it is arched by the emerald rainbow, a pledge that God in judgment will remember His covenant promise.
5. In the first chapter of his book, Ezekiel describes to us a vision he had of the Throne of God. He, too, saw a rainbow encircling that Throne, but it was of a fiery bloodied color. And why? God was angry with His people.
6. What color is the rainbow around the Throne to you?
a. If you cannot say, "Though You were angry with me," it will be blood-red—a thing of terror, of awful dread and fear.
b. But if, like John, you know the Lord, then your eyes will fall with delight on the sight, you will find rest there, your spirit will be refreshed. For you will remember if Noah's rainbow is a sign of the great world covenant, telling us that God is a faithful Creator, this speaks to me of a Faithful Redeemer
7. Besides that, the August Person on the Throne is, through Christ, my Father.
III. In Heaven the Rainbow is a Full Circle.
1. On earth it is only half a circle—sometimes not that—at the best it is imperfect and incomplete. Indeed everything down here is imperfect and incomplete. Read Ecclesiastes to see the result of the most diligent and painstaking search after happiness and rest in things down here ever prosecuted. Result—weariness and disappointment.
2. But in Heaven everything is complete and perfect. The rainbow is full circle. Everything is perfect. Heaven meets all our needs. Whatever be the longings of your soul, Heaven will meet.
a. A fisher woman, who had lost her husband and two sons at sea, was asked what she most liked to think about when she thought about the land beyond, and she said: "And there shall be no more sea."
b. Ask the mourners what they like to think about concerning Heaven: "And there shall be no more death;" that sufferer racked with pain:
c. "Neither shall there be any more pain;" to that one struggling with poverty: "They shall hunger no more;" to the lover of nature: "Eternal Spring." There, everlasting spring abides, and never withering flowers.
IV. In Heaven it Endures.
1. On earth it is only fleeting, a sign of a changing state of things.
2. But in Heaven it abides, remains.
3. We smile when a tradesman declares that a cloth or garment "is everlasting wear." This rainbow abides.
V. Final Word.
1. Please note, "after this." After what? After vision of Son, vision of Father.
2. John met with Christ on earth, and then saw the Father on the Throne.
3. God out of Christ is a consuming fire.
SEVERE JUDGMENTS ON THE EARTH.
1. Our warships sometimes sail under sealed orders. Only in midst of ocean have the seals to be broken. The Roll of Judgment containing the deep secret purposes of God is sealed with seven seals, that is, perfectly seated.
2. It is the Lamb who opens the Sealed Book containing the deep, hidden, and sealed purposes of God. The key of the future is in the hands of Christ.
3. The Day of Tribulation begins with the opening of the First Seal.
4. The judgments increase in intensity and severity as they proceed.
I. First Seal: Invasion—by Antichrist (1,2).
1. "A bow," but no arrows, hinting at bloodless victories.
2. A great conqueror, and a great conquest.
II. Second Seal: Civil War (3, 4).
III. Third Seal: Famine. Food 16 times more costly than ordinarily. In the reign of Tragan one penny bought twenty measures.
IV. Fourth Seal: Pestilence and Death. (7, 8). "Death appears mounted on a horse, not on a throne; he arrives, he passes by" (C. G. Rossetti).
V. Fifth Seal: Jewish Martyrs (9-11). This fifth seal is marked off and separated from all the others.
1. Their Identity.
2. Their Loyalty to God's Word.
3. Their Prayers.
4. The Departed:
a. Are not non-existent.
b. Are not unconscious.
c. Retain a consciousness of their former life on earth.
d. Retain the power of prayer.
e. Are capable of receiving knowledge.
f. Are capable of receiving additional comfort and glory. g. These were impatient for the hour of justice and recompense to strike.
VI. Sixth Seal: Signs in Heaven Above and In Earth Beneath (12-17).
1. A great earthquake.
2. A great hiding.
3. They wanted to be hidden from the face of the Lord. We mourn when He hides His face.
4. Question in verse 17: "Who shall be able to stand," is answered in Rev. 7:9.
5. "Moved out of their places" (verse 14) foretold Matthew 24:35; Isaiah 34:4; 13:6-13).
THE SEALED ISRAELITES AND THE REDEEMED GENTILES.
1. This is the first of several parenthesis in Revelation.
2. It is given to show us that a great work of grace will be wrought during the Great Tribulation.
I. The Sealing (1-8).
a. Verse 1. No influence from East, West, North, or South, can be allowed to hinder what God is now about to do.
b. Verse 2. They are marked as God's, not by a man out of the City, as in Ezekiel 9, but by an angel. (You will note that the Beast, too, has his seal for his followers. See Rev. 13:16-18; 14:9-11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).
c. Verse 3. A visible sealing. The Romans marked their soldiers on their hands, but their slaves on their foreheads.
a. A change of Dispensation. Israel now taken up.
b. Note: Levi included, but Dan omitted. Why? (See Deuteronomy 29:18-21).
I. By association with the Lord Jesus we shall be exalted.
ii. "Be sure your sin will find you out." iii. The preserving character of present-day sealing.
iv. We do not know what this seal will be. v. Success of this sealing (Rev. 14:1-5).
II. The Great Multitude (9-17).
1. Comforting. To distressed workers and tried Christians.
2. Who are they?
a. Not the Church. They have been translated.
b. Not the Bride, for she is in, not before the Throne.
c. Redeemed ones who have passed through "The Great Tribulation."
3. Their Position.
a. Before the Throne.
b. Serve Him constantly.
c. Indwelt by God.
d. No more hunger, etc.
e. No more tears.
SILENCE IN HEAVEN.
Revelation 8, 9
I. Silence (8:1-6).
1. Strange that silence should be the first result of the opening of the Seventh Seal.
2. The need of silence in our own spiritual lives.
3. This is the silence before the storm.
4. It is a silence that prayer might be heard.
5. How our prayers are offered (3, 4).
6. The direct result of the offering of the prayers was awful judgment.
7. The prayers in 6:10 are presented (3, 4) and answered (5).
II. The Trumpet Judgments (8:7-9:21).
a. This Seventh Seal is remarkable as that which discloses the judgment of deepest woe.
b. These plagues correspond very closely with the plagues of Egypt, only these are universal and horrible.
1. Judgment which Affected Land (8:7). Trees well-known symbol of human greatness (Daniel 4:4-27).
2. Judgment on Sea. One-third of fish and shipping destroyed. (8:8,9). A mountain in Scripture language represents a kingdom (Isaiah 11:9; Zechariah 4:7; Jeremiah 51:25).
3. Judgment Affecting Drinking Water (8:10-11). Note, not a mountain, but like one, "as it were."
4. Judgment Obscuring Sun, Moon, and Stars (8:12,13).
5. Strange Locust Judgment (9:1-12). Locusts have no king (Proverbs 30:27), but these have, and his name is given (11).
(a) Opened Heaven in 4:1; now opened Hell (2).
(b) The Star fallen from Heaven—the Prince of the Power of the Air.
c. Hellish origin of this plague.
d. Not to kill, but torment (5).
e. Not able to die (6).
f. The locust army is a symbolical representation of judgment of a superhuman kind.
6. An Army of Cavalry, Two Hundred Million in Number (9:13-21).
a. The Sixth Trumpet summons a swift overwhelming, and destructive host from the East to stay men of the Western Empire.
b. Dreadful picture of human perversity (20, 21).
VICTORY AT LAST.
Revelation 10:1-11 and 11:1-18
1. Instead of the Seventh Trumpet sounding, we have another parenthesis. Why? It is that we may turn from these scenes of terror to get another glimpse of the Lord.
2. Before the Seventh Seal was opened a sealing took place (see 7); before the Seventh Trumpet is sounded we have another sealing (10:4).
3. We come to the close of the first section of this third great division (4:1-11:18).
I. The Angel (10:1 to. 7). (The Lord Jesus). He comes down from Heaven as the great Antagonist of the "Angel of the Abyss," who comes up from below, and is enveloped in the cloud of the smoke of the Pit.
1. His Might.
2. His Descent.
3. His Majesty. Clothed with a cloud. Special sign of Jehovah's majesty (Isaiah 19:1). The drapery of the sky floats upon His shoulders; the rainbow forms His diadem.
4. His Act of Possession.
5. His Shout of Victory (3).
6. His Declaration ("Delay no longer," 6).
"The description of this Angel has been admired by every classical scholar. Considered merely as a literary production, it stands unrivaled by anything we meet with in all the pages of Grecian and Roman literature."
II. The Little Book (10:8-11).
1. There are many things sweet to know, but bitter to realize.
2. It is sweet to be in the service of the Lord, yet there is bitterness also.
3. The servant of the Lord, to be a true witness, must first assimilate the message.
III. The Measuring (11:1, 2).
1. The Temple is to be rebuilt (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
2. The Lord taking under His special care:
a. Holy Place.
b. Brazen Altar.
c. The Worshipers.
IV. The Two Witnesses (11:3-12).
1. Who are they? Are they Enoch and Elijah? Or Elijah and Moses? (See Malachi 4:5, 6; Matthew 11:14).
2. Note, they:
a. Are empowered by the Lord (3). b. Preach 3-1/2 years.
c. Exercise their ministry on Old Testament lines (5,6).
d. Killed when work is finished (7, 8).
e. Their dead bodies maltreated (8).
f. Rejoicing of enemies cut short by their resurrection and glorification (11, 12).
3. Note the first mention of the Beast (11:7).
V. The Great Earthquake (11:13, 14).
6. The Seventh Trumpet of Victory (11:15).
7. The Song of the Messiah (11:16-18). This is the fourth great song in the Book. 1st, was the Song of Creation (4:9-11). 2nd, was the Song of Redemption (5:9-14). 3rd, was the Song of Victory (7:9-12). 4th, was the Song of Messiah (11:17, 18).
The Satanic Powers Operating During the Great Tribulation.
1. We begin a study of the 2nd Section of this 3rd Division of the Book of the Revelation.
2. The former division (4:1 to verse 18 of chapter 11) had more to do with secular wickedness, and its standpoint is the Throne; this division has more to do with religious wickedness, and its standpoint is the Temple.
3. The other section began with Christ glorified (4:5) and ended with Christ triumphant (10:11); this section takes us further back still, to the Birth of Christ, and back to events further still, giving us many additional details.
4. We get in this section the inner view of events, the mighty evil personalities behind all the terrible apostasy and wickedness of the last days.
5. Note: Sign (12:1, margin).
I. The Woman (12:1, 2).
1. Not Christ; nor Church; not Mrs. Baker Eddy (as Christian Scientists declare); nor Virgin Mary (as some Roman Catholics assert).
2. The Woman is Israel, whose glory is described with unimaginable splendor.
3. Note, might and borrowed light under her feet.
II. The Dragon (12:3,4).
1. Another wonder, not a great wonder.
2. Only ten horns.
3. "The tail"—meaning his influence. He led to ruin many of the Heavenly beings.
III. The Man Child (12:5).
1. No difficulty in recognizing who is meant by Man Child, when verse 5 is compared with Psalm 2:9. It is Christ.
2. His life and death passed over, as this is emphasized elsewhere.
IV. The War in Heaven (12:7-9, 12).
1. At present Satan is "prince of the power of the air."
2. He has yet to be cast from thence by Michael the Archangel.
V. The Wilderness (12:6).
1. Dragon is first described as the enemy of the Child, but presently becomes the enemy of the woman.
2. He has always persecuted the true Israel.
3. Israel under Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness; they are yet to spend 3-1/2 years there.
6. The Dragon Standing on a Sea-shore (13:1, R.V.). Significance of calling them Beasts.
1. The First Beast (1-10).
a. This is not only the Imperial system of Rome revived, a great political power, but a person—Antichrist.
b. A caricature of the resurrection (13:3).
c. His work (5-10).
2. The Second Beast (13:11-18).
a. Coming up "out of the earth" is out of a settled order of things.
b. He is the False Prophet (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). A great ecclesiastical power.
c. Our Lord spoke of false prophets as well as false Christs (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24; Mark 13:22).
d. His speech betrayed him (13, verse 11).
Finis. Three great requisites for these times (13:10).
1. Flight (Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 13:14-23; Rev. 12:14).
2. Patience (Rev. 1:9; 2:19; 3:10; 14:9. 12).
3. Faith (Rev. 2:10, 13, 17; 17:14).
THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN.
1. The last chapter (13) is the darkest chapter in this Book.
2. What a relief to turn away from the awesome sight of the dread Trinity of Evil to get another glimpse of the Lord.
3. In last chapter we saw the Devil and his associates busy; but what is God doing with and for His own? In this study we see the result of the Lord's working.
I. The Lamb and the Sealed (14:1-5).
1. Mount Zion, Jerusalem—there to take possession of the city (1).
2. Lamb standing, not sitting.
3. With Him are those who were sealed in chapter 7, only since then they have passed through the Tribulation.
4. Their appearance on Mount Zion with the Lamb is the occasion of great rejoicing among their brethren, the martyred saints of the Tribulation, now risen and in Heaven (2).
5. The Character of the Sealed AND Redeemed.
a. Purity (4). Free from the awful moral impurity associated with idolatry; free from spiritual impurities in worship and practice. (Newman erroneously took this as eulogizing celibacy).
b. Obedience and Discipleship. "Follow the Lamb" (4).
c. Truthfulness (5). "The lie."
d. Blamelessness (5).
II. The Preaching of the Everlasting Gospel (14:6,7).
1. Not the Gospel preached today.
a. No sound of mercy nor story of love. No mention of the Name of Jesus.
b. It speaks of fearing God: of Judgment.
c. It is the Gospel of God as Creator.
III. A Terrible Picture of Fate of Ungodly (14:8.13). Most terrible picture of the fate of ungodly to be found in Scripture. The eye shrinks from the spectacle. It is given as a warning against worshiping the Beast.
1. Four Pourings Out.
a. Blood (Leviticus 4:7).
b. Blessing (Malachi 3:10).
c. Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17, 18).
d. Wrath (Rev. 14:10).
2. No Rest—For
a. The Redeemed (Rev. 4:8; 14:13).
b. The Ungodly (Rev. 14:11).
Rest from works, but not rest from worship.
IV. Christ as Judge Coming in the Clouds of Heaven (14:14-20). "White cloud"—symbol of the Divine Presence.
V. The Completion of God's Wrath (15:1-16:21).
1. Seven angels with the seven last plagues (15:1).
2. The victorious martyred company of Judah (15:2-4).
3. The ministers of God's wrath equipped for judgment (15:5, 6).
4. The Plagues (16:1-21).
Note two statements concerning the Head of the Son of Man. First time His Head referred to in New Testament, Luke 9:58. Last time His Head referred to in New Testament, Rev. 14:14.
BABYLON THE GREAT.
Law of Recurrence. This law is seen in operation in connection with Babylon. It was mentioned in Revelation for the first time in 14:8, and again in 16:19. The writer returns to this subject to give additional particulars.
Notable Fact. Here is a most notable fact, that no event, save the death of the Lord Jesus, has been so much made of in the Word of God as giving such intense satisfaction, as the fall of Babylon. Why is this?
History of Babylon. Satan is an imitator. God's Holy City is Jerusalem. God having His City, Satan must have one, too and Babylon is Satan's capital. It was founded by the Lord's opponent (Genesis 10:9). It was built as is recorded in Genesis 11. This eleventh chapter of Genesis records two facts, the building of Babel and call of Abraham, that is, man's attempt to establish himself upon the earth, and God calling a man out of it, to find his portion and home in Heaven.
What is Meant by Babylon? Is this Babylon or Rome? There is Babylon mystical and Babylon literal (see 17:18).
1. We have read of a woman before (see chapter 12).
2. But there are striking differences.
a. The other clothed with light—all the adorning of this one is counterfeit (for "decked" read "gilded.").
b. The sun-clothed woman had no name—this one has (3,5).
c. The first one stood on the moon; this one is seen sitting on a beast (3), that is, upheld by Satan and Antichrist.
Who is this Woman?
1. Roman Catholics say the woman was Pagan Rome.
2. Protestants say it is Papal Rome. The officials of the Roman Catholic Church array themselves in those colors.
3. A City? Yes (18). It is both. It is a City, the seat of a false religious system, supported by Antichrist.
I. The Vision (17:1-6).
1. One of the Seven Vial angels.
2. "The Great Whore"—City (verse 18).
3. Scarlet Colored Beast—Papal Rome.
4. Seven Heads—Forms of Government.
5. Ten Horns—Royal personages.
6. Names of Blasphemy—Many and varied forms of self-will and rebellion against God.
7. "Decked"—Having a wondrous and attractive idolatrous system full of abominations.
8. Drunken with Blood—Guilty of many deaths.
II. The Interpretation (17:7-18).
1. "Was"—Past; "is not;" at present; "shall ascend," that is, shall be resurrected (verse 8).
2. "Seven Mountains"—The Seven Hilled" City of Rome.
3. Make War with the Lamb.
III. The Fulfillment (18:1-24).
1. "Habitation of devils"—Headquarters of Spiritism.
2. Call to separation (4).
3. Her wickedness (5).
4. The merchandise.
5. "In one hour," "In one day" (8, 10, 17, 19).
IV. The Rejoicing (19:1-16). The Amens.
1. Amen to the Curses (Deuteronomy 27:15).
2. Amen to St. John's strange command (1 John 5:21).
3. Amen to His Presence (Matthew 28:20).
4. Amen to the Lord's Working (Mark 16:20).
5. Amen to His Coming (Rev. 22:20).
6. Amen with the Alleluia (Rev. 19:4).
SOME OF THE LAST THINGS.
How significant are the words of our Lord in Matthew 26:63-64. On the right hand of power He has been sitting ever since His Ascension, while He has gathered His beloved Church to Himself, Now the second part of the statement is to be fulfilled, "Coming in the clouds of Heaven."
I. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:1-10).
1. Note the Four Hallelujahs (19:1-6).
2. This is the first occurrence of this word in the New Testament.
3. The first occurrence of this word, Alleluia, in the Old Testament corresponds in a marked manner with its first occurrence in the New Testament. We first find it in Psalm 104:35. What the people of the world lament over ("woe" or "alas", 18:9, 10), these say, Alleluia!
4. On verse 3, Tennyson the poet, wrote: "Magnificent conception, darkness and fire rolling together forever and ever."
5. Then in verses 7-10 we have the Marriage of the Lamb. The Bride is the Church. Blessed are they who are "called" (9), yet more blessed are they who call— the Bride. Note the folly of the adoration of angels and saints (10).
II. The Great Supper of God (19:11-21).
1. The Second Advent of the Word of God (19:11-16). Heaven opened, not a door in Heaven as formerly (14). Observe the Lord's three names (12, 13, 16). Note, an army without weapons.
2. The Battle of Armageddon (19:17-21). This will be the last battle. "War against Him." Who? The Lord. Observe, "Cast alive."
III. The Millennium (20:1-6).
1. Observe: Chains that can bind spirits (3). There are chains that can bind flesh and blood, and there are chains that can bind spirits. Thrones (4).
2. "Laid hold on the dragon" (2). He who has planned all and used 'all for the accomplishment of his own sinful purposes, must now be dealt with.
3. The first Resurrection we have recorded in verses 5 and 6.
IV. After the Thousand Years (20:7-15).
1. After the Millennium Satan must be loosed (7). Observe the "must" of Divine necessity in verse 3.
2. Satan's going out himself to deceive (8). So here he does not leave this to others. His special tool at this time will be Gog, prince of Rosh, Mesech, and Tubal.
3. Gog and Magog. Gog and Magog denote the nations as a whole. Magog is mentioned in Genesis 10:2, as the first son of Japhet. Josephus renders the word Magog, Scythians. The two words combine the nations North and East of Palestine. The word Magog is found only in Genesis 10:2, as a son of Japhet; in Ezekiel where it means a land or country of which Gog is the prince; and in Rev. 20:8, where Gog and Magog appears to be an inclusive term for the Gentile nations. Ezekiel 38 and 39 must be distinguished from Rev. 20. Ezekiel records the war referred to in Rev. 16:14; 17:4; 19:17-21, which takes place before the Millennium, while Rev. 20 takes place after it.
4. "Compassed the camp of the saints" (9). Ezekiel 38:18-22. So terrific will be the slaughter, that it will take seven months to bury the dead, and for seven years the children of Israel will have fuel enough for their use from the wood of the weapons left behind upon the field.
5. "Great White Throne" (11).
a. "Great," indicating the greatness of the occasion.
b. "White"—purity, holiness, righteousness.
c. No name and no rainbow given, no form described— only an awful mysterious presence.
d. "Small and great"—all classes.
e. "Stand"—past kneeling, past praying. f. "Books"—vouchers for the Book of Life. g. "According to their works."
THE HOLY CITY.
1. Three Jerusalems:
a. Present City now existing.
b. Heavenly City—a literal City in Heaven.
c. Mystical City—both a people and a city here in Revelation.
2. Is the City of Verse 2 same as Verse 10?
a. Walter Scott says: "The 'coming down' in verse 2 is a thousand years after the 'coming down' of verse 10. The former is in Eternity, the latter is at the commencement of the Millennial Age; the former the Church comes down to the eternal earth, in the latter she rests over the Millennial earth."
b. The Law of Recurrence explains.
3. This chapter and next deal with eternal events. The Eternal times and events are described more fully in the first eight verses of 21, than in any other portion of the inspired Word.
I. New Heaven and a New Earth (21:1).
1. The Divine declaration in verse 5 (present tense).
2. The Fulfillment (1).
3. The Agent—First (2 Peter 3:10).
(Holy Land given to Israel for an everlasting possession).
1. A "new earth" does not necessarily mean another earth.
2. To make all things new is different to making new things, e.g., make a new garment out of an old one.
3. Two words translated "new" in New Testament:
a. That which has recently been brought into existence.
b. A fresh aspect, given to what has previously existed, but being outward. The latter is the meaning here.
4. No More Sea.
a. Literally true then.
b. Spiritually true, too. No more mystery, lawlessness, unrest.
5. Everlasting distinction even in Heaven of earthly and heavenly people.
II. The New Jerusalem (21:2-22:5).
1. What was Necessary before John Saw (2,9, 10). John was led into the wilderness that he might see Babylon (17:1), the false Church and City; he must be placed on high ground that he might see the true Church and City.
2. What he Saw. A city and a people (2,9).
3. The City:
a. Expected. Looked for (Hebrews 11:13-16).
b. Origin. Like Jesus and Holy Spirit, it descended out of Heaven (2-10).
c. Character. Holy (2, 10). A Holy City must come from above.
4. Beauty (2, 11, 18-21).
a. Glory of God. Not like Babylon, glory of man.
b. Pure gold, yet transparent (18).
c. Authorities in precious stones marvel at the amazing skill here displayed in the harmonizing and arrangements of the colors.
5. Its Lack. No Temple (22). Therefore far beyond the Millennium.
6. Its Size. Greatness, 1500 miles in length, breadth, and height (16).
7. Its Ample Protection.
a. Strong City surrounded by a wall (12) 216 feet high.
b. See verse 27.
8. Its Popularity (24).
9. Its Light (23).
10. Its Life (22:1).
11. Its Glorious Inhabitants (21:3, 22).
12. A Splendid Array of Negatives. Tears (22:3).
13. Three Elements of the Perfect State of Man:
14. Freely (21:6).
THE COMING OF CHRIST.
1. Affirmations concerning the truth of the Book of the Revelation.
a. By God Himself (21:5).
b. By an Angel (22:6).
c. By the Lord Jesus (22:16, 18, 19).
2. The Imminence of His Second Advent.
a. By Angel (6, 10).
b. By Lord Jesus (7, 12, 20).
3. Reaffirmed blessing for readers and keepers of this book (7). "He," not "they," as in 1:3.
4. The second time John failed in the presence of these glorious scenes (8, 9). "Worship God" (note John 5:23).
5. Obedience to commands is not the ground on which Eternal Life is bestowed (14. Note R.V. and John 5:24).
6. Daniel has to "seal the Book" (Daniel 12:4) for the time of the end was far off; here "Seal not the sayings. . for the time is at hand."
7. In eternity no further offer of mercy (11, 15).
8. Note the significance of verse 16. Source, yet offshoot of David.
9. The last of the "Gospel 'Comes' of the Bible" (17).
10. Old Testament ends with a "curse" (Malachi 4:6); New Testament ends with a blessing (21).
I. Imminent. Can you say, "Even so Come?"
11. Significance of Current Movements.
III. Why is the Second Advent Never Mentioned in New Testament except in a casual kind of way? Because the primitive believers were so well-instructed in Second Advent truth.
IV. The Most Prominent Theme in the Bible.
V. The Progress of the Divine Revelation concerning the Lord's Coming in the Bible.
VI. The Lord's Promise (John 14:3).
VII. Each Apostle Emphasizes a Different Phase of the Lord's Return.
1. With James it was Justice (James 5:1-7).
2. With Jude it was Judgment (Jude 1:14,15).
3. With Peter it was Majesty (2 Peter 1:16).
4. With Paul it was Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
5. With Hebrews it was Fulfillment (Hebrews 9:28).
6. With John it was Purity (1 John 3:3).
VIII. The Lord's Coming.
1. Testimony of the Angels (Act 1:9-11).
a. Certainty. "Shall."
b. Identity. "This same Jesus."
c. Manner. "So come."
2. Testimony of the Apostles.
a. Why observe Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26).
b. We shall not all die (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
c. Of Paul when Old (Titus 2:11-14).
d. Three Appearances.
i. Past (Hebrews 9:26).
ii. Present (Hebrews 9:24).
iii. Future (Hebrews 9:28).
e. Three Shepherds.
i. Good (John 10:11).
ii. Great (Hebrews 13:20).
iii. Chief (1 Peter 5:4).
f. Three Comings.
i. He came first to die.
ii. Next time He will come for His own (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
iii. Finally He will come with His own (2 Thessalonians 1:7).
9. General Outline of Events at and succeeding His Coming. The Four Judgments.
1. Judgment at the Reward Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10). In the air. (Immediately.)
2. Judgment of Living Nations, on the earth (Matthew 25:31). (Seven years afterwards.)
3. Judgment of the Unconverted Dead at the Great White Throne (1000 years after). (Rev. 20:11, 12).
4. Judgment of Angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; 1 Corinthians 6:3).
10. To be More than a Mere Doctrine. "Love." (2 Tim 4:8).