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Bible Commentaries

Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation

Revelation 11

Verses 1-2

Lecture 22

(Revelation 11:1-2)

DIFFICULTIES OF THE CURRENT METHOD OF INTERPRETING THE APOCALYPSE--CONNECTION OF THIS CHAPTER WITH THE PRECEDING--THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN MUST PROPHESY AGAIN--MEASURING OF THE TEMPLE--"THE HOLY CITY"--THE JEWS AGAIN IN THE FOREGROUND--A NEW ORDER AND CANON--CASTING OUT OF THE GENTILES--ZION REDEEMED WITH JUDGMENT--THE FORTY-TWO MONTHS.

Revelation 11:1-2. (Revised Text.) And there was given to me a reed like to a rod, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. And the court which is outside the temple, cast out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles; and they shall trample the holy city forty and two months.


We here come upon ground which has been very trying to expositors--the great battleground of conflicting systems, and the burial-ground of many a fond conceit and learned fancy. Alford has given it as his opinion that the chapter on which we now enter "is undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse." On all the prevalent theories for interpreting this Book, he is certainly right in this opinion, and the difficulties of which he complains must remain till those theories are abandoned, and another departure taken.

If we were to take a description of a horse-mill, and insist on expounding it as a description of a mill-horse, no matter what qualifications we might bring to the task, we would find ourselves continually beset with difficulties and embarrassments which we never could fully overcome. And just so it is with nearly all our commentaries on the Apocalypse. It is not learning, ability, research or ingenuity that is at fault, but an underlying misapprehension of the nature and intention of the record. It is a description of one thing, and they are all the while trying to make it quite another thing. It is an account of the wonders of "The Lord's Day"--the day of Judgment, and they propose to explain it of "man's day"--the day of the present dispensation. God gave it as "The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ," and they seek to interpret it as an apocalypse of human history. This is the great trouble. Nor is it to be wondered that the skin of the lion will not fit the ass, and that the ears of the inferior animal will stick out notwithstanding the most ingenious efforts to cover them.


It would, indeed, be affectation to pretend that there are no difficulties in the way of a satisfactory exposition of this Book, but I am well persuaded that the most of those encountered by our commentators, and which hinder thinking readers from seriously embracing their theories, are imported by themselves, in the primary mistake which wrests the record from its own proper subject, and applies it to another which is at best only remotely and inchoately embraced. Let it be fixed and settled that we here have to do with the scenes of miracle and judgment, and that this chapter relates to those grand and mysterious administrations by which Christ is to take possession of the earth and clear it of usurpers and enemies, and the way is open to understand all, so far as it is possible to comprehend such wonders beforehand.

It is evident that the events here narrated are of a piece with what was described in the preceding chapter, and follow directly from it. Concerning the relation between these two chapters, Dr. Elliott justly says, "The connection between what concludes the one, and what begins the other, appears to be as close as it well could be: seeing that the Angel who before addressed St. John still continues here to address him; and the new injunction, Rise and measure, is but a sequel to His previous injunction. Thou must prophesy again."[85] We there saw the glorious Angel, which is Christ Himself, in the sublime attitude of taking possession of the earth, by setting His feet upon it, displaying in His hand the title-deed to it, and swearing that there should be no more delay. And what now comes before us must, therefore, relate to the same transaction, and to the time and occurrences in which the same is to be carried into effect. In other words, it describes to us the ongoing of the judgment, now rapidly moving to its climax.

[85] Horae Apocal. in loc.


The first thing in the process of this taking possession of the redeemed inheritance is indicated in the change made in the attitude of John. Having beheld the Angel, he is withdrawn from the position of a mere seer and made an actor. A voice from heaven directs him to take the document from the Angel's hand, to eat it, and so to make it his own by incorporating it with his very being; whilst it is further announced to him: "Thou must prophesy again upon peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings many." What did this mean? John is not the only one who is to obtain the title to the inheritance. All the meek have it promised to them. Every true Christian is to share it. When the blessed Goel comes to give it to His redeemed ones, there will be many besides John to receive it. In what capacity then are we to contemplate this calling of John to take, eat, and have vested in him the title-deed to the inheritance? Certainly not in his individual capacity; for then none are ever to inherit but himself, as in him that title finds final lodgment.


It is a very common thing, in the delivery of sacred prophecies, for the individual prophet to act in himself what is meant to be understood of those whom he represents. "As remarked long since by Irenaeus, the ancient prophets fulfilled their office of predicting, not merely in the verbal delivery of predictions, but by themselves seeing, hearing, or acting out the things in type, which were afterwards to be seen, heard, or acted out by others in reality--and this whether in real life, or perchance in vision. In all which cases they were to be considered, as they are called in Isaiah and in Zechariah, mophthim; that is, figurative or representative persons."[86] And such a representative is St. John in the case before us. He acts the part in the apocalyptic scenes which pertains to the whole body to which he belongs. What is given him in the vision is to be understood as given them, and what he does and experiences is to be understood as done and experienced by them, when the vision becomes reality.

[86] Elliott, HorCE Apoc. vol. 1, p. 281.


Nor can we be in any doubt as to the persons of whom he is thus the representative. He is an Apostle, and hence a divinely constituted representative of the Church. He is in heaven at the time, and so a representative of the Church thus shown to be in heaven at the time the vision is fulfilled, that is, of the resurrected, translated, and glorified saints. To the whole body of redeemed ones are we therefore to understand this giving of the title-deed of the inheritance to be; in whom also it forever after inheres.

But as John receives and eats the little book as the representative of glorified saints, it is as the selfsame representative of the selfsame saints, that it is said to him: "Thou must prophesy again," and that it is further commanded him to "Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it." And if so, then we have the key to the whole case, and there breaks in upon us a glorious light for the right interpretation of this otherwise very difficult passage.

To prophesy is not simply to foretell future events; but to exercise the functions of a witness for God. In the verses following, the Two Witnesses get their name from their work, and that work is called prophesying. To declare the will and purpose of God, or to act as His ambassador and mouthpiece, is to fill the office of a prophet. Aaron was to be Moses' prophet, which is explained to mean that he should be a spokesman and a mouth for Moses. And so, to be the agent or instrument through which God utters Himself to men, whatever may be the nature or the subject of the utterance, is to prophesy. Such witnesses and mouth-pieces Jehovah has always upon earth. The whole Church is such a witness and prophet. In and through it the word of God ever sounds, and the mind and purpose of God ring out into the ears of the world; and even principalities and powers in the heavenly places are being instructed by the Church. Every individual Christian is a confessor of the true God, in whose confession the will and purpose of God in Christ Jesus is testified and proclaimed. No one can become or continue a faithful Christian without this. In so far, then, every genuine Christian is a real prophet. Through him God speaks continually. His whole career on earth as a Christian confessor is a continuous prophesying against the wickedness of the world, of the necessity of godliness, and of the way of salvation in Christ. But even after the saints have gone from this world, they are still not yet done prophesying. As here said to John, they must prophesy again. After they have been "caught up together to meet the Lord in the air," and have "put on immortality," and the day of judgment has progressed to the second woe-trumpet, the Mighty Redeemer having delivered to them the recovered deed to the inheritance, new commissions issue; and from being mere spectators of the ongoing judgment, they become actors in its administrations, and once more assume the office of witnesses for God. And what is involved in this prophesying again, together with its attendants and results, it is the object and intent of this chapter to set before us. Let us, therefore, approach it with due reverence and prayerfulness.

"And there was given to me a reed like to a rod, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. And the court which is outside cast out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and they shall trample the holy city forty and two months."


These words set forth the initial processes of the actual taking possession of the earth by our triumphant Redeemer. Like the judgment-administrations as a whole, it is not a summary, but a gradual work. It certainly extends through years, and involves various particulars and stages. How, and where, and in what, the commencement is to be made, we may here learn.

A remarkable feature in the case is, that the glorified saints are the chief actors. It is John who receives the equipment and the commission, but in him, as was said, the glorified saints in general are included. This is true in every instance in which he is taken out of the position of a mere spectator and made an actor in what is narrated. His call and transfer to heaven, described in the fourth chapter, set forth the catching up into the aerial spaces all God's ready and waiting saints when once the time for the fulfilment of these wonders has come. And so his reception and eating of the little book, from the nature of the case, must be understood of the whole Church in heaven at the time these scenic representations become reality. So then likewise must we understand the prophesying again, and hence also the equipment and commission in the words in hand; for they all necessarily go together as parts of each other, and must be accepted in one and the same way throughout. The giving and the command are to John, but only for the convenience of the description, whilst in the fulfilment they are to the whole body of glorified saints, for John here stands in place of the saints.

Nor need we be surprised at this, as if it were something foreign to the teachings of the Scriptures in general. Paul, in a plain and didactic epistle, says: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2.) So also says the Psalmist: "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their couches: let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written. This honour have all the saints." (Psalms 149:5-9.)


The office assigned in this particular instance, is the measuring of the temple and altar of God, and those who worship therein. Measuring is a judicial act--the laying down of lines and borders which are to mark and determine dimensions and boundaries. It is the sign of appropriation. When it is proposed to take possession, and to have things put to their purpose, men begin to measure. In the settlement of some new order, as beheld by Ezekiel, there is a great deal of measuring and marking out of portions and possessions. And so when the triumphant Redeemer is about to enter upon the inheritance, he gives command to measure. What is measured is from that moment His, and so designated by the measuring. What the lines of the measurement include, He acknowledges and claims; and any indignity rendered toward it becomes a heinous sin against High Heaven. And what is outside of those lines, and not measured, is not acknowledged by Him, but is rejected, and held and treated as denied.


The first things thus measured are the temple, the altar, and the worshippers in that temple. Peter says, "Judgment must begin at the house of God." The only house of God now on earth is the Church, the mystic temple, the spiritual house, constituted of all believers. At this house judgment begins by the sudden and miraculous catching away of God's waiting people to the sky, as we saw in the earlier chapters of this book.

But the Judgment-administrations have two sides. They consist of two series, and exhibit, so to speak, two different currents: the one the upward current, in which good and its representatives pass out of the world as if abandoning everything to utter perdition; and the other the downward current, in which good and its representatives come again in victorious power to possess and hold everything. Each of these currents has its own particular beginning; and, in both instances, the point of beginning is the most sacred point-the house or temple of God. But it is not the same house or temple in both instances. It is the mystic temple in the first, and it is a more literal temple in the second. When Christ once catches away to the heavenly spaces His ready and waiting saints, as described by St. Paul, the present Church ends. Fractions and inferior fragments of it may still float in the waves of the great tribulation and subsequently land on the shores of salvation, but without crowns, and only as the after-born, not as the firstborn. And by the time the downward current of which I spoke sets in, the present Church, as such, will have been quite transferred to the regions above, and will constitute the measurers in the text, and not the object measured.


The measuring here commanded implies that what is measured had not, up to that time, been acknowledged on the part of Christ. This could not be true of the Church. The language is peculiarly Jewish. There is a fane, an altar, and a court of the Gentiles spoken of; which accords with the ceremonial economy, but not with the Christian.[87] There is a "holy city" alluded to, which is given to the Gentiles to trample for a time, which carries us directly to Jerusalem, and indicates that we are here unmistakably on Jewish ground. There is no other city on earth so called in the Scriptures. In the account of the return from Babylon we read: "The people also cast lots to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city." (Nehemiah 11:1; Nehemiah 11:18.) Isaiah (Isaiah 52:1) calls out: "Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city." In the account of the temptation it is recorded: "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple." (Matthew 4:5.) And even after its inhabitants had made themselves guilty of the innocent blood of Christ, the same language is still used; for we read that "many of the saints which slept arose and came out of their graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared to many." (Matthew 27:52-53.) There is only one other "holy city" spoken of in all the Bible, to wit, the New Jerusalem; but that never has been and never will be given to be trampled by the Gentiles. Some other "holy city" must then be meant. Many make it the Church; but the Church has not only been measured, appropriated, acknowledged from the very beginning, but its untrue members have likewise been all the while rejected and unacknowledged, and just as really and conspicuously so before the Reformation as then or since. Inchoately and secondarily, as a sort of shadow of the great substance, we may see some resemblances between these visions and the past history of the Church; for the course of things conducting to the consummation takes the general outlines of that consummation; but we have abundantly seen that this Book will not interpret on the mystical method, without most damaging prejudice to what belongs to a divine revelation, assuming to itself the preeminent importance and solemnity which this Book assumes. And so true and palpable is this, that the common Christian mind under its teachings, and the sorry acknowledgment of many of its most candid defenders, is, that this is a book of riddles and mysteries which it is not in the power of man to understand, and that nothing clear or solid is to be derived from it;-nay, that Christians may now learn as much if not more, on the same subjects, by reading the infidel Gibbon, and a few writers on mediaeval and subsequent history, than from the whole Apocalypse![88] This is so damaging a confession for a Christian to make, that it wears the evidence on its face of some deep and radical mistake in the method of treatment which necessitates it. We cannot, therefore, take "the holy city" here as denoting the Church, but understand by it what the Scriptures always mean by the phrase, and interpret it with confidence of Jerusalem, to which alone the temple, with its altar and court of the Gentiles pertains.

[87] Dr. A. Clarke, in loc. says: "This must refer to the temple of Jerusalem; "though what to do with it he confesses he does not know.

[88] So, for example, Dr. A. Clarke, who prefaces his commentary on the Apocalypse with these words: "It is my firm opinion that the expositions of this book have done great disservice to religion.... In the words of Graserus: Mihi tota Apocalypsis valde obscura videtur; et talis, cujus explicatio citra periculum, vix queat tentaré. Fateor me hactenus in nullius Scripti Biblici lectione minus proficere, quam in hoc obscurissimo vaticinio."


What, then, is the implication, but that when this period is once reached, Jerusalem will have been largely repopulated by the children of its ancient inhabitants, its temple rebuilt, and its ancient worship restored. God is not yet done with the Jews as a distinct people. In their half-faith and "blindness in part," they will seek and find their way back to a revival of their ancient metropolis, temple, and ritual. Some of the most striking passages of holy Scripture assert this with a clearness and positiveness which no fair exegesis can ever set aside. The New Testament constantly assumes it. And when it is accomplished, as it certainly will be, Jerusalem will still be "the holy city," because of the consecration it of old received. The temple will also be in some sort God's temple, though at first unacknowledged and unappropriated by Christ. And among the worshippers will also be many true servants of God; for already under the sixth seal we were called to contemplate a movement among the tribes of Israel by which 144,000 were marked as the Lord's, and singled out as the objects of His gracious protection. These still live on earth among men at the time to which the text refers; for it is only as late as the transactions noted in the fourteenth chapter that they are found with the Lamb in glory. Nor will there be at that period a holier place or service on earth than this restored Jerusalem and temple. But with all, it will not till then receive the acknowledgment and appropriation of the glorious Messiah; nor then entirely, nor at all without a strict resurvey, and the putting down of new lines, measurements, and boundaries from heaven.


Important changes are likewise indicated by this measuring. Where there is a new laying out of lines, the old is cast away, and things take a new shape. The same is indicated in the character of the rule or instrument of the measurement. In measuring the New Jerusalem, the instrument is a "golden reed." Here it is "a reed like to a rod"-a measuring implement, but having the prevailing aspect of an instrument of chastisement-hence indicative of an afflictive, revolutionizing, measurement. There will, therefore, be rejections of some things, and additions of others. In other words, there will be a purging of the temple after the style of the proceeding of the Saviour when he took a scourge in his hand, and somewhat disturbed the business of the money-changers and them that sold doves. It is a measuring which is to proceed according to a rule which operates as a rod.


But the changes indicated are not arbitrary. The lines are all drawn by a fixed and heavenly rule, given for the purpose. It is called "a reed." The original (κάλαμος) is the word which the Septuagint uses for the Hebrew word Kaneh, from which comes our ecclesiastical word Canon, both meaning a rule, particularly a rule of religious belief and duty. Hence the books of the Old and New Testaments are called The Canon, or the canonical books, seeing that they are the infallible Rule of all true faith and practice. This κάλαμος, therefore, is not to be associated so much with the idea of a frail reed shaken by every wind, as with the idea of a canon law, an inflexible rule, a divinely constituted directory. It does not mean our present Scriptures, as some expositors have represented; for it is not the canon, but a canon-not the Rule, but a Rule. For all the offices and duties pertaining to this life, the sacred Scriptures are the exclusive and supreme Rule; but for the offices and duties of the "world to come," there will be other Rules, and another canon. The Scriptures have already been given to the saints. We have them complete, and our fathers have had the same for ages. The canon here in question is a new thing, first given at this stage in the ongoing Judgment, and given first to the glorified saints in heaven. The germs of it may indeed be embraced in our present Scriptures, as the germs of the New Testament were all contained in the Old, particularly as the Psalmist says the saints are "to execute the Judgment written;" but still the new commission has also its new canon, not yet given, according to which this judicial measuring is to be done, and to which all the changes it brings will be conformed. The ancient Jews "received the law by the disposition of angels" (Acts 7:53); and it would seem that their descendants in the judgment time are to receive another canon "by the disposition of "glorified saints, in connection with the final fulfilment of that promise quoted by St. Paul: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:... for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:8-12. See Jeremiah 30:1-24 and Jeremiah 31:1-40, and Ezekiel 36:1-38.)


It appears, therefore, that, from the time of the measuring here described, there is again to be a true and divinely acknowledged temple of God upon earth, with an altar and worshippers set apart and marked off as the Lord's.

Some have given out the strange fancy that it is in heaven, and not on earth, and that it is only the outer court that is on earth. This is meant to avoid the difficulty created by the erroneous assumption that what is measured can never thereafter be defiled. But it is evidently a mistake. There is indeed a temple in heaven, as shown all through the Apocalypse; but the temple, altar, and worshippers there, have all the while been acknowledged and appropriated as the Lord's, and required no new measurement to that effect at this late period; and to apply the rod to people and things in heaven, argues a rather sorry appreciation of the holiness and happiness of that region. When the New Jerusalem is about to be entered and set apart as the glorious city of God and His saints, it is measured too, but with "a golden reed," not with one "like to a rod." Besides, the outer court is rejected, and hence not acknowledged of God, which would leave us no temple of God at all upon earth for "the captain of the robbers" to defile. And how can that be sacrilegiously desecrated which God refuses to acknowledge and positively disowns? The great aggravation of the sin of Antichrist is, that he sets up an idol in Jehovah's place, and turns God's true and acknowledged temple into a house of murderous idolatry. There must, therefore, be a true temple of God on earth, one which God acknowledges and claims as His, during the time of Antichrist, which is immediately subsequent to this measuring.


The outer court of this temple is ordered to be rejected, and cast entirely out of the measurement. The outer court is the court of the Gentiles, and this fact is given as the reason for the rejection. The present dispensation began with Jews exclusively; and "in the regeneration" the new order on earth is likewise to begin with Jews exclusively. And this casting out of the court of the Gentiles because it is the court of the Gentiles, proves the present dispensation then at an end. Now Gentiles and Jews stand on the same level. The one has no prerogatives or rights above the other. In the Church there is neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but all nationalities and conditions in life yield to one common brotherhood and heirship. The text, therefore, tells of a new order of things. New commissions issue, a new canon comes into force, and the Jew is again in the foreground for the fathers' sakes, and the Gentiles are thrust back. The mere presence of them in the outer part of the temple causes it to be rejected and cast out of God's acknowledgment.

From the very beginning of the admission of the Gentiles to fellow-heirship with the seed of Jacob, the admonition of "the Apostle of the Gentiles" to them was, and still is: "Be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive-tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive-tree? For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." (Romans 11:21-25.) This is very remarkable language. It implies a precariousness of our high calling in Christ Jesus which we would hardly suspect, and which it is dangerous to overlook. It foreshows an end to the favours now enjoyed by the Gentiles, and for the same causes that cast down the Jews from their ancient preeminence in the Divine economy. It sets forth that the existing depression of the Jew, and the exaltation of the Gentile to equality with him, is only temporary, and must terminate. Yea, and in all the Scriptures, there is a time contemplated, when the πληρωμα--the full complement-of the Gentiles shall have come in, and things shall begin again with the Jew at the head. And it is to the fulfilment of this mystery that the text relates. The measurement of the temple, its altar, and its worshippers, is the receiving again of the Jew, his regrafting upon the old theocratic root and native olive-tree, and his re-establishment as the chosen of God among the nations of the earth; and the casting out of the court of the Gentiles, is the diminishing, cutting off, and casting away of the Gentiles from their present rank and privileges.


And when we consider the corruption, deterioration, and ever-increasing apostasy of the present Church, from the time of the Apostles onward;-when we read in holy writ that in the last days the form of godliness shall be found lingering over the utmost excesses of unrighteousness, the pure truth of God be no longer tolerated by professed Christendom in its eagerness for religious novelties and sensations, and faith have almost entirely evanished from the earth;-when we contemplate the prophetic pictures of the consummate heathenism and perversion of everything sacred and true which is to mark the closing periods of this dispensation;-there is no room for wonder at the final command to cast out the unclean thing, whilst what follows begins again with the children of God's ancient people. It is the eternal law of things, that unfaithfulness brings judgment, and that if people do not appreciate and improve their privileges they must lose them. The Gentile Church apostatizes, and it dissolves, just as the Jewish Church before it.

But though God be again choosing Jerusalem and its temple as the place of His manifestation, and Israel for His earthly people, he does not yet defend cither from all further disturbance and disaster. "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and they that return of her with righteousness." (Isaiah 1:27.)


"They (the Gentiles) shall trample the holy city forty and two months;" not because of the superior holiness of these Gentiles, for in them wickedness comes to its highest earthly culmination, but God uses them for the chastisement of Israel, at the same time that he puts them in position to be themselves tormented and discomfited. He manifests their sin against His newly constituted people, that He may manifest the climax of His judgments against them, and require of them "the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world." They persecute the measured worshippers, desecrate the measured altar and temple, and set up an idol in the marked place of Jehovah, that the consummation of all plagues may fall upon them.


And here comes in a very important point to test the soundness of the spiritualistic interpretation; to wit, the relation, in point of time, between the measuring of the temple and these forty-two months of the trampling of the holy city. Is there not every reason in the record for regarding the measuring as first performed, and the trampling as a sequel to it? By no fair dealing with what is written can we put the trampling first and the measuring afterwards. But if the measuring precedes the trampling, or even synchronizes with it, then Popery and the Reformation cannot be the subject of the picture, as taught by our spiritualistic expositors. The Church cannot be at the same time both reclaimed from papal desecration and trodden down by it; neither can its reformation from popish defilement precede the dominancy of such defilement. Yet one or the other of these must be true, if the measuring denotes the work of the Reformers, and the trampling the evils inflicted by the papacy. But as in the nature of things neither can be true, it follows that the Papacy and the Reformation are not here the subject, and many a splendid chapter of historic learning must pass for nothing, as regards the exposition of this prophecy. It is what is measured that suffers under the trampling, and the purged temple is again briefly defiled by the Gentiles. Nay, the measuring itself involves chastisement and trouble to those who are the subjects of it, such as cannot well be predicated of the Reformed Church. The reed with which it is done, is "like to a rod;" and a rod (ράβδος) in the Apocalypse always denotes an instrument of chastisement. (See Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15.) It is likewise written of those then to be received into particular favour: "I will bring them through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried." (Zechariah 13:9.) And the ordeal includes just such a spoliation of the holy city as is here described; for God says He "will gather all nations (Gentiles) against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity." (Zechariah 14:1-2.)

But the trouble, though sharp and severe, will not be perpetual, nor long; for "then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations (Gentiles) as when He fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east" (Zechariah 14:3-4); and the great day of God Almighty will end it forever.


"Forty and two months" is the holy city to be trampled; that is, three years and a half, no more, and no less. It is a literal city that is trampled and defiled; it is a literal oppression and affliction that befalls it; and so the months which compute the duration of the trouble are also literal months. These great chronological scaffoldings which men build around prophetic dates, is mere fancy-work-"wood, hay, and stubble"--nothing but rubbish and obscurations of the truth of God. When it is meant that we should take numbers and dates in some other way than as they read, He gives us intimation of it; and in the absence of such divine hints, as in this case, there is no warrant for taking them any otherwise than as they stand written. "Forty and two months" are forty and two months, and not twelve hundred and sixty years.


The computation is given in "months," which is common in the Scriptures when troubles and afflictions are the subject. The beginning and duration of the flood is expressed in months. The ark was in the country of the Philistines seven months. The locusts torment men five months. And Jerusalem's last great trial is computed in months, as well as the term of the blasphemies of the Beast.


The number of the months is forty-two--six times the period that the ark was in captivity. Six is the number of evil, and seven of dispensational completion, and these are two marked factors of forty-two; which would seem to signify a fulness or completion of the evil in those months. Israel in the wilderness had forty-two stations; and the wicked youths slain by the bears for their mockery of Elisha were forty-two. The powerful monster who makes war with the saints, oppresses the nations, and blasphemes God, continues "forty-two months." And so the completion of Jerusalem's troubles is summed up in the same numbers and computation.


But ere the forty-two months are accomplished, there are yet many other things to come to pass, among the most marked of which is that crux interpretum, or rack of expositors--the history of The Two Witnesses. But what I have to say concerning these must be reserved for another occasion, when I hope to be able to identify them and their place in history without having to hunt up the obscure Waldenses, hidden away from the world like Chammoix in the Alps, or to lodge the true cause of God on earth for a dozen centuries with so variable, roving, and revolutionary a sect as the doubtful Paulikians, from whose history scarce a page survives which a true Christian can endorse as an untarnished testimony for God. Meanwhile, may the Lord add His blessing to what has been said, and cause it to be fruitful in bringing forth praises to His holy Name!

Verses 3-4

4)

Lecture 23.

(Revelation 11:3-4)

THE TWO WITNESSES--THEIR CONSPICUOUSNESS--THE ACCOUNT OF THEM DICTATED BY CHRIST--THEIR NUMBER--THEIR PERSONALITY--THEIR INDIVIDUALITY--ARE SAINTS FROM HEAVEN-DISTINCT FROM RESURRECTED AND GLORIFIED SAINTS-ENOCH AND ELIJAH ANSWER TO THE DESCRIPTION--BEINGS FROM HEAVEN HAVE COME TO EARTH AND DIED--THE PERSONAL RETURN OF ELIJAH AFFIRMED BY MALACHI, CHRIST, THE JEWS, THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS--A TWOFOLD ELIJAH COMING--ANOTHER PROPHET TO ACCOMPANY ELIJAH-ENOCH THAT PROPHET-BOTH ARE JUDGMENT-PROPHETS-THEIR CLOTHING--HOW "THE TWO OLIVE TREES AND THE TWO LAMPS"--THEIR STANDING BEFORE THE LORD OF THE EARTH.

Revelation 11:3-4. (Revised Text.) And I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

These are the two olive-trees and the two lamps, which stand before the Lord of the earth.

Whoever these witnesses may be, they are the most extraordinary of whom there is any account. Many martyrs perish under the Beast (see Revelation 13:15; Revelation 20:4); but none of them receive a tithe of the notice given to these two. Antichrist himself, in all his despicable preeminence and vast dominions does not more conspicuously stand out on the record than they. Nay, in all the earth there are none to cope with him but them. He tramples the world beneath his feet, and they alone are more formidable against him than all other men besides. And this one simple fact is itself sufficient to shake and overthrow forever many of the modern attempts to identify them. The priests Ananus and Jesus at the time of Rome's siege of Jerusalem, Pope Sylvester and Mena, Francis and Dominic, John Huss and Jerome of Prague, the Waldenses and the Paulikians, in this view of the case, are not once to be thought of.


These Witnesses are not presented to John in vision. They are described to him by the glorious Angel, who is the Lord Jesus Himself. The account we have of them is not John's account, as in most other instances in this book; but it is Christ's account, given in Christ's own words. But few interpreters have remarked this, though a striking feature of the case, which shows that we here have to do with something altogether extraordinary and special.[89]

[89] "From Revelation 11:3, to the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the matter is not exhibited in a vision, but was dictated to John by an Angel personating Christ; the observation whereof is of no small consequence."--Joseph Mede, Key of the Rev. in loc.


The narrative is also somewhat anticipative. It brings together into one compendious account the whole history, some of the details of which relate to agencies and scenes which are only afterwards described in full. The Beast who makes war with these Witnesses, and slays them, is not seen coming up till we reach the thirteenth chapter. Their career accordingly reaches into subsequent visions, and overspans scenes and events which remain to be afterwards narrated. And the fact that the whole story of these Witnesses is presented separately from everything else, in a different manner, and somewhat in advance of some of its connections, conclusively argues a peculiarity, conspicuity, and extraordinariness in the matter, which cannot well be exaggerated.

These Witnesses are two in number--δυσίν μάρτυσὶν. This duality is three times repeated, and is an essential part of the record. As stated by Alford, "no interpretation can be right which does not retain and bring out this dualism." Why two, we do not fully know. Both the law and the Gospel calls for two witnesses to establish important truth. (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16.)


God generally sets his heralds and witnesses in pairs, as Moses and Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, Zerubbabel and Jeshua, Peter and John, the twelve and the seventy, "two by two." And in the trying circumstances here described, two could better uphold and console each other than one, without companionship.

These witnesses are persons. Primasius says, though somewhat equivocally, "The Two Witnesses represent the Two Testaments preached by the Christian Church to the world," and Bede, and Bishop Andrews, and Melchior, and Affelman, and Croly, and Wordsworth, and some others, have taken this view. But it is altogether a mistaken view, necessitated by the embarrassment occasioned by wrong conceptions of the Apocalypse, rejected by the overwhelming majority of interpreters ancient and modern, and utterly irreconcilable with the text. It is not true that the Old and New Testaments are preached to the world only 1260 days, or years, and then end their testimony;--that they are arrayed in sackcloth all the days they are preached;--that fire issues out of their mouths and kills those who will to injure them;--that there is no rain upon the earth during the days of their prophesying;--that they have power over waters to convert them into blood, or at will to smite the earth with plagues;--that they are capable of being killed by man;-or that indignity can be offered them, being dead, by refusing to allow them to be put into a sepulchre. Yet all these things are affirmed of these Witnesses. Nor is either the Old or the New Testament ever called a μαρτυρ. Ten times do we find this word in the New Testament, and in every other place but this, no one questions that it denotes persons. In more than fifty places in the Old Testament, the corresponding Hebrew word denotes persons only. These Witnesses prophesy. This is the work of a person. More than one hundred times does this word (προψητευω) occur in the Bible, and never, except once by metonymy, but of persons. These Witnesses wear clothing of sackcloth, of which we read much in the Scriptures, but always of persons. They work miracles and execute judgments, but nothing of the sort is ever predicted of anything but personal agents. Not without the greatest violence to language and fact, therefore, can we regard these Witnesses as other than real persons. The conclusion may be very damaging to some men's cherished theories, but the integrity of God's word requires it, and it is impossible to escape it with any just regard to the laws of language and the nature of things.


These witnesses are individuals. No reader of the account, having no preconceived theory to defend, would ever think of taking them for bodies, or successions of people. All the early fathers, from whom we have any testimony on the subject, regarded them as two individual men. Two distinct and conspicuous bodies of witnesses for Christ, all prophesying in sackcloth through 1260 years, or even days, and all dying martyrs, as here represented, expositors have searched in vain to find in the history of the Christian ages. Such bodies of men, with such powers, and with such a history, have never existed. Modern writers have flattered themselves that they have found successions of people scattered through the middle ages, whom they would have us accept as The Two Witnesses of the text; but they have been obliged to purchase their conclusions at the expense of explaining away every distinct feature of the record, doing violence to the facts of history, and super-exalting almost every species of obscure and even heretical sects and sectarists as God's only acknowledged prophets. This is by far too great a cost at which to accept a theory, which, even if true, would be totally unworthy of a place in so solemn and momentous a book as this Apocalypse. Good and able men have satisfied themselves with it; but, on the same principles of interpretation, there is not a chapter in the Bible, nor a doctrine of our holy religion, which could not be totally explained away. By a happy inconsistency they do not so treat other portions of Scripture, or they would transmute the whole Revelation of God into uncertainty and emptiness. And whilst we give them credit for their learning, industry, and good intentions, and admit that a dim and imperfect correspondence to these Two Witnesses may perhaps be traced in the past history of the Church, yet, as we value the literal truth and certainty of the Divine Word, we cannot accept their expositions as exhaustive, or even as approximative to the revelation here given us.


WHO, THEN, ARE THESE TWO WITNESSES?


The connection in which the account of them is given, may serve to put us somewhat on the track of the right answer. These Witnesses come upon us suddenly, in the midst of the scenes of the judgment. The glorious Angel, which is Christ, is in the act of taking possession of the earth. New commissions have gone forth, which introduce the saints in heaven to new activities relating to the earth. In the person of John they are commanded to measure the temple, its altar, and the worshippers in it. And in connection with this command, and as part of the same address of the glorious Angel, the word is:

"And I will give to my Two Witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days. These are the two olive-trees and the two lamps which stand before the Lord of the earth."


Now, as saints from heaven are to do the measuring, and the Two Witnesses are promised, in part at least, to accompany the measuring, would it not be natural to suppose them also to be some noted saints from heaven? Saints from heaven are in the field. These Witnesses fulfil their office in connection with a work assigned to those saints, and in some sort by way of co-operation or supplement of the same. Why should we then think of their being any other than also saints from heaven? Hence, with the whole body of the early Church, I take them to be none other than two such saints from heaven.


But a very marked and wide distinction is made between these Witnesses and the saints represented by John. Those are measures, these are witnesses. There is nothing said to show that the measures are known or visible to the people on the earth; but these Witnesses prophesy and preach to men, and are seen, and heard, and known, and handled by them. There is no intimation that the measurers are the objects of persecution, affliction, or death; but the Witnesses are hated, resisted, and finally killed. This difference indicates not only a difference of office and sphere, but also a difference in the form and susceptibility of being. The saints who have once died, and been resurrected and glorified, have put on immortality, and are no longer capable of death. "Once to die" is the lot appointed unto men; and having paid that debt, bodily death hath no more power over them. And as these Two Witnesses die subsequent to their prophesying, we are driven to search for some saints in heaven, who never have died.


Nor will our search be a fruitless one. The Scriptures tell of two noted prophets, who have now been thousands of years in heaven, and who, for aught we know to the contrary, are just as capable of death and resurrection as ever; especially if God has so arranged and intended. Need I say more plainly to whom I allude? They are so marvellously distinguished in the Scriptures from all others of the race, that it is at once suggested to the Christian mind who they are. They were, and still are, God's preeminent witnesses. They were God's most noted prophets while they sojourned upon earth, and, in the manner of their removal from among men, they are the only witnesses of the kind that God ever gave. One of them lived on the other side of the flood, "and was not, for God took him." The other was a Jew, of the degenerate times of Ahab and Jezebel, who "went up by a whirlwind into heaven." The one is Enoch, the seventh from Adam; the other is Elijah, the Tishbite.

It may strike the modern ear with some surprise to hear of these saints, or any saints, returning again to earth here to suffer and be killed. We live in a very materialistic and sceptical age;-one slow to believe, and very unwilling to receive anything outside of the common round of human observation. People see things running on in one channel, and call it Nature, and will not hear of the possibility of any variation from it, though what they reject may really be no more unnatural than what they admit. They are so impressed with the uniformity and stability of things around them, though knowing almost nothing about them, that they give out with great confidence:


"Since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:4), and ridicule the credulity of those who can listen to anything else. They forget how the Scriptures pronounce against such a temper, and foretell it as one of the marked symptoms of the last days, and warn us to beware of it as unspeakably dangerous with regard to the predicted wonders of the judgment time. We must, therefore, make due allowance for the sceptical spirit of our modern atmosphere, and not reject extraordinary truth simply because it strikes us as too extraordinary.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


Neither is it so unheard of and improbable a thing after all, that beings from heaven should come to the earth, and suffer, and die, and rise again. An infinitely longer time than since the rapture of Enoch, had the blessed and adorable Son of God been in heaven; yet he came to earth, suffered, died, and rose again. Even after His incarnation, on the mount with Peter, James, and John, he was as much arrayed in heavenly glory as Elijah who there appeared in converse with him; yet, from that holy mount, and glory, and sublime transfiguration, he came down, and suffered, and died. Paul was once in heaven, caught up, he knew not how, and saw and heard things he dared not tell; and yet, he came back, and preached, and suffered, and died. John was called up to heaven, to behold the wonders that are described in this Book; yet he also returned, and suffered, and died. And if the eternal Son of God from the very throne of Deity, and the Son of Mary from the mount with Moses and Elijah in glory, and Paul in the third heaven, and John amid the wonders of the scenes he writes of in the Apocalypse, could and did come from thence to preach, and suffer, and die, what laws of things, or word of Revelation, can be produced to preclude the possibility of a like return, suffering and death on the part of Enoch and Elijah? There are no such laws, and there is no such word.


But so marvellous a truth is not to be rested on mere likelihoods and probabilities. We must have something positive and decided for it, or dismiss it as a fancy. Something positive and decisive, however, we have.

Turning back to the ancient prophets, we find this word: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you in judgment.... For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.... Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet [the Septuagint, Arabic, and old Latin versions read 'Elijah the Tishbite'] before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 3:1-18; Malachi 4:1-6.)


This is God's own word-the closing word of the Old Testament. It names Elijah the prophet, even Elijah the Tishbite, and says that God will send him again upon earth, to minister among men as the forerunner of the great and terrible day of the Lord-the day of the final overthrow of all the hosts of the wicked.


Here, then, we would seem to come upon solid Scriptural ground. If Elijah means Elijah, and the great and terrible day of the Lord is the day of Christ's final coming in judicial majesty to crush out Satan and his seed, there is no alternative left to believers in God's word, but to receive the doctrine that Elijah is to come again to prophesy and execute works of judgment upon earth, and just in that period of time to which the Apocalypse assigns these Two Witnesses. Whatever else may be compassed by the prediction, and in whatever narrower circles it may have been fulfilled, if words are not utterly deceitful, and certainty can at all be predicated of God's very specific promises, this prophecy cannot be considered fulfilled or accomplished in the past, nor until Elijah the Tishbite, in propria persona, returns again to the earth.

We accordingly find that the book of Ecclesiasticus (which the Roman Catholic Church receives as inspired, which the fathers and Reformers highly honoured, and which Protestants often have bound in their Bibles between the Old and New Testament), eulogizes Elijah and says, that he is anointed by God's order to appear again in the world, to rebuke evil, declare the impending judgment, reconcile the children of Jacob, rescue many, and make the way for the great and terrible day then about to break. (Ecclesiasticus 48:1-11.) Hence also the ancient Jewish believers up to the time of Christ, as all strict Jews since, looked for the reappearance of Elijah in the flesh as the herald of the victorious Messiah. Arnold (in Ecclesiasticus 48:10) says: "It was the unanimous sense of the Jews, that Elias should first come himself in person before the Messiah, and restore all things." Their old Litany of the Hosannas celebrates this anticipation.[90] Their most honoured writers constantly refer to it.[91] Hence, too, the deputation to John the Baptist with the question: "Art thou Elias?" (John 1:19-20.) And hence the remark of the disciples to Christ: "The Scribes say that Elias must first come." (Matthew 17:10.)

[90] See Etheridge's Targums on the Pentateuch, I, 33, 34.

[91] "Pesiqta Rab., fol. 62, Colossians 1:0, speaks of it. Jalkuth Shimoni, fol. 53, Colossians 3:0, gives the same view: 'Elijah will come three days [years?] before the Messiah;' quoted in Eisenmeng. Entdeckt. Jud., II, p. 696. So the Talmund, Tract. Shabbath, fol. 118, Colossians 1:0; Rabbi Bechai, Shulcan Arba, fol. 5; Colossians 4:0; Jalkuth Shimoni in Mal., fol. 88, Colossians 4:0; each and all repeat the same sentiment, Eisenm., ut supra, p. 712. Emek Hammelakh repeatedly declares the same thing; quoted in Eisenm. II, 714, 715."--Stuart in loc., II, 222.


"The passages from later Jews may be found collected in Frischmuth (De Eliae Adventue, Jena, 1659; reprinted in the Thesaurus Antiquus). In the Book Chissuk Emunah (Wagenseil's Tela, II, 318), Rabbi Isaac says, 'It is well known in the nation of Israel that the Messiah would not be manifested till Elias the prophet had come, as we find from this passage (in Malachi).' According to the Schulchan Aruch (in Frischmuth) the Jews were in the habit of remembering Elias every Sabbath, and praying that he might at length come and announce their redemption, which they regarded as the sole object of his coming. And Aben Ezra concludes his commentary on Malachi with the words, Deus propter misericordiam suam vaticinium suam impleat, Jlnemque adventus iliu sacceleret."--Hengstenberg's Christology of the Old Test., IV, 220.

"Indeed, the Jewish belief in the literal appearance of Elias as the herald of the Messiah was universal, and so universal does it continue to this hour, even after the lapse of eighteen centuries, that the Jews at their marriage feasts always place a chair and knife and fork for Elijah. They also set a chair for him at their passover feast, at which time they more especially look for him."--Armageddon, vol. i, p. 131.

"In the celebration of the Passover two large cups are filled with wine. One of these is taken by the master of the house, and a blessing pronounced. After this blessing the head of the family gives the cup to all those sitting around. He then brings forth the hidden cake, and distributes a piece to each. The second cup of wine, called 'Elijah's cup,' is then placed before him; the door is opened, and a solemn pause of expectation ensues. It is at this moment that the Jews expect that the coming of Elijah will take place to announce the glad tidings that the Messiah is at hand. Well do I remember the interest with which, when a boy, I looked towards the door, hoping that Elijah might really enter; for, notwithstanding the disappointment year after year, his arrival is still confidently expected."--Herschell's Brief Sketch, p. 61.


Some teach that this was a mistake-a mere Jewish notion. If so, it was a most extraordinary mistake. What was so devoutly accepted, taught, and believed by the holiest saints from Malachi to Christ, the theme of so many holy prayers and songs, and given out for the truth of God by the most eminent Christian fathers down to and inclusive of Jerome and Augustine, cannot safely be set down as a groundless conceit. We also have the highest Scriptural reasons for believing that it was not an empty notion, but a part of the true and abiding Revelation of God. Jesus Himself has affixed His own infallible authentication to it, and in such explicit terms that we can only wonder how people can speak so contemptuously of it as some writers who call themselves Christians.

On the mount of Christ's glorious Transfiguration Elijah appeared. The disciples saw him and knew him. And, as they were coming down from the mount, they asked the Master about this very point, alleging the doctrine of the scribes that "Elias must first come." And He answered and said unto them: "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." (Matthew 17:11.) This passage is decisive. "The great Interpreter of prophecy gives right to that interpretation of the prophetic word which the scribes maintained," says Trench. It cannot refer to John the Baptist, for John was then dead, while every part of it specifically relates to the future. "Elias truly shall come,[92] and shall restore all things."[93] Besides, the restoration or "restitution of all things" (ἀποκαταστασις παντων), in the which it is affirmed that the coming Elias is to take part, is specifically referred by the Apostle Peter to the time of Christ's second coming. (Acts 3:19.) In all its terms and relations, therefore, we are compelled to accept this solemn declaration of the Saviour as looking to the future, and meant to set forth what yet awaited fulfilment. John the Baptist is here out of the question, unless indeed he is to come again. Dr. Stier has rightly said: "Whoever, in this answer of Christ, would explain away the manifest and striking confirmation of the fact that a coming of Elias was yet to take place, must do great violence to the words, and will never be able to restrain the future of their form and import so as to be applicable to John the Baptist."[94]

[92] The word here is ἓρχεται, which is indeed in the present tense, and might be read cometh, or is coming, which would still not admit of application to John, whose whole career was then in the past; but it is a well-known rule in Greek composition to use the present tense when it is meant to emphasize the certainty of something still future, representing the thing in contemplation as actually commenced already. See Jelf's Greek Grammar, § 397, and Winer's Idioms, § 41, 2. But, in the next clause, ἀποκαταστησει, which describes the work of the coming Elias, is in the future, and can by no means be applied to the work of John, which was then entirely in the past. Our translators have, therefore, rightly rendered it shall come.


[93] "Did John restore anything? He restored nothing. He was the inspired rebuker of a country's sins, and he bade them prepare for the reception of that country's Lord; but he literally restored nothing. And, therefore, this must apply to what shall be, and not to that which has already been."--Cumming, in loc.


[94] Words of the Lord Jesus, vol. ii, p. 368.


But, it may be asked, Did not Christ say in the same connection, that Elias had come already, leaving it to be understood that He spoke of John the Baptist? The answer is, Yes; but in a way entirely distinct from the declaration we have just been considering. Elsewhere also he says of John: "If ye will receive [it, him, or something else] this is Elias, which was for to come." (Matthew 11:14.)[95] This proves that there is a sense in which John the Baptist was Elias, but certainly not such a sense as that in which the Jews were expecting Elias, nor yet such a sense as that in which He declared, after John was dead: "Elias truly shall first come and restore all things."[96] John was not the literal Elias. This we are compelled to admit, or else he did not tell the truth; for when the priests and Levites asked him, "Art thou Elias?" he answered, "I am not." (John 1:21.) And this clear and positive denial is further sustained by the facts (1) that he did not restore all things as was predicted of Elias, and (2) that the great and terrible day, which was to be ushered in immediately upon the finishing of the Elijah ministry, did not succeed the ministry of John, but is even yet future. Whilst, therefore, there is a sense of much importance in which John was Elias, there is another, more literal, and equally important sense, in which he was not Elias, and in which Elias is still to be expected, according to the Saviour's own word.

[95] Our translators here have not been very happy in their rendering. Ἠλιαςμελλων ἕρχεσθαι, does not mean Elias which was for to come in the exclusive sense that there could be no further coming of Elias more literally than in John the Baptist, but rather bears the intimation that a further coming is to be awaited. The literal translation would be, "He [in some sense] is Elias who is about to come." John had come and was then in prison, but the true, the literal Elias-coming is given as future.


[96] The apodosis (μεν, δε) in this passage is not between the two affirmations as to the truth of one and the falsity of the other, for both are given as true. There is no limitation or negation of the first clause by what is said in the second; but the distinction indicated is, that one contemplates the Elias in one sense of the promise, i.e., literally, and the other in another sense, i.e., figuratively; neither being at all inconsistent with the other. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias [μεν, on the one hand, in one respect] is coming first, and shall restore all things; [δε, on the other hand, in another respect], I say unto you that Elias, is come already, and they knew him not." As Alford expresses it, "The double allusion is only the assertion that the Elias (in spirit and power) who foreran our Lord's first coming, was a partial fulfilment of the great prophecy which announces the real Elias, who is to forerun His greater and second coming," (in loc.) The Lord answers, not by hinting that the scribes were mistaken in their literal interpretation, but by intimating a double fulfilment of the promise. He asserts at once the partial fulfilment of it already, and its future accomplishment. The holding of both these views is absolutely necessary to render this passage intelligible.--Govett on Rev., p. 158. Jesus declares the opinion of the scribes concerning the coming of Elias in person, according to Malachi 4:5, to be wholly correct, and defines the kind of labours in which he is to be engaged; but intimates that one had already exercised for Him this office, one whom the scribes had put to death, one who had wrought in the spirit and power of Elias.--Olshausen in loc. "Jesus confirms the literal accuracy of the prophecy, showing that John was in truth what the angel Gabriel had announced he would be, one coming in the spirit and power of Elias, but not the predicted Restorer of all things, for he was the forerunner of the dissolution instead of the restoration of the Jewish polity and nation. But speaking in the future tense, he says, that Elias truly shall first come and restore all things."--Armageddon, I, 112.


There was a twofold ministry embraced in the ancient promise to send Elijah, just as there was a twofold advent in the predictions concerning the Messiah. In neither case did the Old Testament clearly distinguish between these two, but viewed them both as if they were but one. And as the two Messiah-comings are widely separated in time, though belonging to one and the same work; so there are two Elijah-comings, equally separated in time, and equally comprehended in the predictions. Hence, John, as the forerunner of Christ in the first advent, was Elias; that is, he filled the Elijah place, operated in the Elijah spirit and energy, did for that occasion the Elijah work, and so far fulfilled the Elijah promise. As the angel said of him before he was born, he went before Christ "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:15-17); which implies that he was not Elias himself. The Saviour could, therefore, truly say of him while living, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come;" and so likewise after he was dead, "Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed." John the Baptist operated in the spirit and energy of Elias, and performed the Elijah mission for the first advent, and so far "was Elias," but, according to the word of the angel, only the virtual, and not the literal Elias. He could accordingly answer the Jews, who had in mind the literal Elias, that he was not Elias, while yet, in another respect, he was Elias. In him the prediction in Malachi concerning the sending of Elijah had a true and real fulfilment, but only a partial, germinant, preliminary fulfilment, whilst the highest and ultimate fulfilment respects another advent of the Messiah, and the coming of the literal Elijah as the herald of it.


Such also is the view which the fathers took of the matter; and so they held and taught on the subject with great unanimity.

Justin Martyr says, "If Scripture compels you to admit two advents, shall we not allow that the word of God has proclaimed that Elijah shall be the precursor of the great and terrible day, that is, of His second advent? Accordingly our Lord in His teachings proclaimed that this very thing would take place, saying, that Elijah would also come. And we know that this shall take place when our Lord Jesus Christ shall come in glory from heaven; whose first manifestation the Spirit of God who was in Elijah preceded as herald in John."[97]

[97] Dialogue with Trypho, cap. 49.

Hippolytus says, "As two advents of our Lord are indicated in the Scriptures, also two forerunners are indicated, the first was John, the son of Zacharias. He first fulfilled the course of forerunner. But since the Saviour is to be manifested again at the end of the world, it is matter of course that His forerunners must appear first, as He says by Malachi, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, who shall come and proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven, and perform signs and wonders."[98]

[98] Concerning Christ and Antichrist, 44, 45, 46.

So too Origen: "The vision upon the mountain in which Elias was seen, did not appear to agree with what the scribes had said: for it seemed Elias came not before Jesus, but after Him. They asked the question, therefore, supposing that the scribes had misled them. But to this the Saviour answers, not contradicting the tradition about Elias, but declaring that there was another coming of Elias before Christ, which had been unknown to the scribes."[99]

[99] On Matthew 17:10 seq.

Victorinus, Methodius, Cyprian, and Lactantius express the same belief and expectation that Elijah is yet to come in person.[100]

[100] See Elliott's Horoe Apoc., vol. iv. Appendix.

Chrysostom says, "As John was the forerunner of the first coming, so will Elias be the forerunner of the second coming"--"Christ called John Elias on account of his performing the same office."[101]

[101] See Suicer's Thesaurus, vol. i, p. 1317, art. Ἠλιας, where the original quotations are given.

Theophylact says, "By saying that Elias cometh, He shows that he was not yet come; he will come as a forerunner of the second advent, and will restore to the faith of Christ all the Jews who are open to persuasion." "If we will receive it, that is, if ye will understand it wisely (if we will not take it too literally), this [John] is he of whom the prophet Malachi spoke as the coming Elias; for the forerunner and Elias perform the same service."[102]

[102] See Suicer's Thesaurus, vol. i, p. 1317, art. Ἠλιας, where the original quotations are given.

Jerome writes, "Elias himself, who will truly come in the body at the second coming of Christ, has now come in the spirit through the medium of John the Baptist."[103]

[103] See Suicer's Thesaurus, vol. i, p. 1317, art. Ἠλιας, where the original quotations are given.


And so the great Augustine: "It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias, who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come."[104]

[104] De Civ. Dei, 22:29.


And so profoundly and universally was this belief rooted and grounded in the early Christian heart and teaching, that De la Cerda says, "All the ancient fathers have delivered it;" and Huetius testifies, "It is the constant and most received opinion of the Church, and all the fathers;" and Maldonatus declares, "It was always the most constant opinion of Christians that Elias was to come before the day of judgment;"[105] and Bellarmine gives it as his belief that to reject this doctrine is, vel haeresis vel haeresi proximus error--either heresy, or error next thing to heresy.[106]

[105] Quoted by Whitby on N. Test. Matthew 11:14.

[106] Quoted by Hengstenberg in Christology, iv. 223. See this whole subject more fully discussed in Armageddon, by a Master of Arts of the University of Cambridge, vol. i, pp. 97-116; Gresswell On the Parables, vol. i, p. 153 seq.; Homes's Resurrection Revealed, pp. 219-226.


And so likewise it was expected and believed, by both Jews and Christians, that the returned Elijah would be accompanied by some other great prophet of the olden time, who was almost uniformly believed to be Enoch. Hence the book of Ecclesiasticus (according to the rendering of Bossuet, who regarded it as inspired and canonical) sets forth that Enoch is to come again, turn the hearts of the disobedient, and give repentance to the generations then living (Ecclesiasticus. 44:16), after the same manner that it speaks of Elijah. Hence, when John the Baptist told the messengers of the Jews that he was not Elias, they immediately asked him the further question: "Art thou that prophet?" and wondered who he could be if "not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet." (John 1:19-25.)


The apocryphal Gospels, Acts, etc, which, though we go not to them for doctrine, belong to the early literature of the Church, and hence are competent witnesses as to the opinions current among Christians at the time they were written, are also very positive and clear in the assertion, that Enoch, with Elijah, is to witness again upon earth. In the history of Joseph the carpenter, Jesus is represented as saying: "Enoch and Elias must, toward the end of time, return into the world and die, namely, in the day of commotion, terror, perplexity, and affliction; for Antichrist will slay them." (Chapter 31.) So in the Gospel of Nicodemus, two old men are found living in their bodies in paradise, one of whom says: "I am Enoch, who was well-pleasing to God, and who was translated hither by Him; and this is Elias the Tishbite; and we are also to live until the end of the world; and then we are to be sent by God to withstand Antichrist, and to be slain by him, and after three days to rise again, and to be snatched up in clouds to meet the Lord." (Chap. 9 alias 25.) So also in Revelation of John, a voice from heaven is represented as saying: "Three years shall those times be.... And then I shall send forth Enoch and Elias to convict him [Antichrist]; and they shall show him to be a liar and deceiver; and he shall kill them at the altar, as said the prophet." So also Tertullian (De Ania, 50); "Enoch was translated, and so was Elijah; nor did they experience death; it was deferred; they are reserved for the suffering of death, that by their blood they may extinguish Antichrist." Arethas (on Revelation 11:13) declares the two Witnesses to be Enoch and Elijah, and claims that this was held with one accord in his day-concorditer affirmatur. Ephraem the Syrian, in quite another section of the Church, speaking of the Antichrist and the great day of judgment, says, "But, before these things, the merciful Lord will send Elijah the Tishbite, and with him Enoch, to teach religion to the human race: and they shall preach boldly to all men the knowledge of God, exhorting them not to believe in the tyrant through fear. They shall cry out and say, 'This is a deceiver, O ye men. Let none of you in any way believe him: for in a little while he will be utterly abolished. Behold, the Lord, the Holy One, cometh from heaven!' "[107] So also Ambrose, who reproves Victorinus for substituting the name of Jeremiah in the place of Enoch as the companion of Elijah in the last years of this present world. And scarcely, until after the first half of the Christian ages, do we hear of any other testimony on the subject. Whenever we hear of the last great Antichrist and the Witnesses who withstand him unto death, Elijah and Enoch, Enoch and Elijah are the names we hear from the lips of the most eminent teachers, bishops, apologists, and martyrs, from the time of the Apostles onward. Modern Christendom has wellnigh dropped these names from all such connections, as it has also wellnigh dropped most of the characteristics of primitive Christianity itself; but nothing that it has substituted in place of these names can claim even a moiety either of the Scriptural or the traditional evidences, which still, in spite of everything, continue to proclaim Enoch and Elijah The Two Witnesses.[108]

[107] Sermon on Antichrist. See Maitland's Apost. School of Proph. Interp., p. 218.

[108] Luther thus expresses himself on the subject: "The old opinion that Elias and Enoch are to come again in the time of Antichrist, is derived from the text where Christ says, Elias truly shall first come and restore all things. It has found place in all the books, and has spread itself through the entire Church. We have no controversy with those who entertain this old belief. They may even wait for a coming of Enoch and Elijah, if they will also permit us to regard it as only an opinion. It is also allowed to believe it possible to interpret the passages in Malachi and Ecclesiasticus as predicting that Elias shall come again."--Watch's ed., vol. vii, col 494.

"The whole question rests on this, whether the prophet Malachi is speaking of the second coming of the Lord at the end of the world, or of the first coming in the flesh and in the Gospel. If he is speaking of the day of judgment, then certainly Elias is to be looked for again; for God cannot lie."--Walch, vol. xi, col 140.

"What shall be said then of the coming again of Elias and Enoch to withstand Antichrist? I answer: concerning the coming again of Elias I hang between heaven and earth, and waver the more with reference to it, that I am of opinion he will not come bodily. I also do not contend hard against it. I let those believe it who are so minded. St. Augustine in one place says, that the coming of Elias and the Antichrist is clearly shown to Christians."--Walch, vol. xii, 208.


It is also to be observed that these Witnesses are described as specially Christ's witnesses. He styles them by emphasis "My two Witnesses"--not so much witnesses for Christ in general as the Mediator and Redeemer of men, but the witnesses of Christ in the particular character and relations in which He was then speaking, namely, as the Mighty Judgment-Angel coming down from heaven, robed in clouds, His face like the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire, about to execute vengeance on His foes and Himself take possession of the earth. And of all men that have ever lived, Enoch and Elijah are the judgment prophets. This particular impress was upon their ministry from the very beginning.


As to Enoch, this characteristic is particularly emphasized. Milton sings of him, that he

--"spake much of right and wrong,
Of Justice, of Religion, Truth, and Peace,
And Judgment from above;"


but from a higher inspiration than that of Milton we learn, that the grand substance of his faith, and preaching, and prophesying, was the last named. We do not know of a single other word that he ever uttered save on this theme of "Judgment from above." There is no evidence that he ever preached on any other subject. The all-absorbing, all-comprehending, as all-characterizing topic of his entire ministry, as attested by the New Testament, was this, that he prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 1:14-15.) He was, therefore, the great prophet of judgment before the flood, and hence one special witness of Christ in the specific character of the strong Angel coming down from heaven in the clouds to execute vengeance upon the guilty.


As to Elijah, he was also pre-eminently a messenger and prophet of judgment. The Book of Ecclesiasticus says of him, that he stood up as fire, and his word burned like a lamp; he brought sore famine upon the guilty, and by his zeal he diminished their number, and brought kings to destruction, and anointed kings to take revenge. (Ecclesiasticus 48:1-8.) Words and works of death and portent to the wicked constituted the great outstanding characteristic of his whole prophetic career, interspersed with the power of resurrection, His spirit was not the evangelic, but the judgment spirit. That wild figure, that stern voice, those deeds of blood, that vehemence of judicial administration, which stand out in such startling relief from the pages of the old records concerning him, have become somewhat silvered over in the Christian's thoughts with the light of the Mount of Transfiguration; but the fiery zeal, and destructive wrath, and rugged outline of the old prophet of woe and death to Ahab and Jezebel, Baal and Ashtaroth, is still the true and characteristic picture of Elijah, identifying him, of all others since his time, as a peculiar Witness and Messenger of the Judgment-Angel. We search in vain for any other two prophets so peculiarly, intensely, and characteristically Judgment-prophets, or that so specially take on the features of heralds and representatives of the coming of the mighty Judgment-Angel.


They are further said to be "clothed with sackcloth." This also is significant. It shows that they are individuals, and not bodies of men extending through a dozen centuries. "It is hard to conceive how whole bodies of men and churches could thus be described. The principal symbolic interpreters have left out, or passed very slightly, this important particular. One does not see how bodies of men who lived like other men can be said to have prophesied in sackcloth."[109] It also shows that we here have to do with another order of things, and not with the present Gospel dispensation. Neither the prophets, nor the children of the New Testament, come thus arrayed in the garb of judgment-times, calamity, and burdens of woe. When we put on Christ, it is not sackcloth we put on, nor is it the spirit of heaviness we enter into; but a wedding garment has clothed us, a garment of praise has arrayed our Spirit. The wearing of sackcloth, and the sort of life which it betokens, befit not these years of grace and jubilee, and relate to other times and another ritual. The mention of it here is a distinct indication that the dispensation has changed. Assuming, however, that Elijah and Enoch are to be these witnesses, the description fits entirely to what is written concerning them in the past, and is just what we would expect in case of their return as heralds of the judgment.

[109] Alford's N. T, in loc.


Elijah, that prince of Hebrew prophets, with all his holy zeal, was a solitary and savage man, rough and shaggy as a lion, dwelling in the hills and caves and unfrequented ravines of Palestine, when not confronting thrones or hewing false prophets to pieces. The Bible tells of the girdle of skin he wore around his loins, and the hairy cloak in which he wrapped himself, to which it gives a name never applied to any garment but his, and shows at every point of reference to him what wild and ascetic austerity and severity marked his whole style of life, as he traced and trod the footprints of Jehovah, and surged hither and thither by the mighty inspiration of God, insulted and outraged by the idolatries of Israel, and the abominations of its kings.

Nor was it different with Enoch. The nature of the times in which he lived necessarily made him a man much like Elijah. Whatever else is couched in that pregnant statement that he "walked with God," it tells of a life sequestered from that of other men, rugged, isolated, and singular. Walking with God, he did not walk with men. If we may at all credit the Book which bears his name, "he was wholly engaged with the holy ones, and with the watchers in his days;"[110] only coming forth betimes to reprove the wicked world, and to sound forth upon unwilling ears the herald voice and midnight cry of coming judgment. And these two great prophets returned to earth again as they were of old, to reprove still greater sins and declare the forthcoming of still greater judgment, would give the exact outline of these Two Witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and tormenting them that dwell upon the earth.

[110] The Book of Enoch, by Archbishop Laurence, 3d ed., p. 13.


These Witnesses are furthermore "the two olive trees and the two lamps which stand before the Lord of the earth." Who are the two olive-trees? All agree that the allusion is to Zechariah's vision. (Zechariah 4:1-14.) He saw "a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which are on the top of it; and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." He asked, "What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left thereof?" and again, "What be these two olive-branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?" The answer was, "These are the two anointed ones [oil-children] that stand before the Lord of the whole earth."


What was the meaning of this vision? The Angel gave it: "This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts." That is to say, it was a material image of the mysterious organism through which the heavenly potencies were coming forth to give success unto completion to the work in which Zerubbabel was then engaged. That work was the restoration of Jerusalem, its temple, its worship, and its system of ordinances-the type of the building of the spiritual temple of the Christian Church, and the pattern and prophecy of that final rebuilding and restoration when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. That candlestick of gold stands for the national Church of the Jews, and thence also for the Christian Church (see Revelation 1:20), whilst the two olive-trees-the anointed ones-standing between God and the people, were Zerubbabel the prince, and Jeshua the high priest. Hence, when Christ declares these apocalyptic Witnesses "the two olive-trees," the meaning is, that they are the Zerubbabel and Jeshua of the final restitution;-great ministers of God corresponding to Zerubbabel and Jeshua of old, and occupying a similar position as the organs of heavenly potencies put forth for the occasion. The two olive-trees in the vision are two individual persons; so then these two Witnesses are likewise two individual persons, for they are "the two olive trees" for their day, as Zerubbabel and Jeshua were in a former day.


But whilst they are "the two olive-trees" of their time, as viewed through the medium of Zechariah's vision, the whole order of things is changed from what it was in Zechariah's day, or what it is in the present Church-period. The golden candlestick, with its many conduits and multitudinous burners, is missing. All of that arrangement has disappeared.[111] The Church-period has ended. Gospel ministers are stars; but these Witnesses are not stars. There are neither "stars" nor candlestick left in the time of these Witnesses. As the more direct and special messengers of God, like Zerubbabel and Jeshua, who gave out the golden oil into the golden bowl and candlestick, the two olive-trees remain; but they are alone, with no golden organism of lightbearers to feed and supply. They are themselves the only lightbearers now for they are at once "the two olive-trees and the two lamps." This clearly demonstrates that the economy is a new one, whilst it at the same time singularly agrees with the two characters whom we take it to describe. Such a lone and self-supplying lamp was Enoch-the sole lightbearer to the old world, then on the eve of submersion in the great waters of judgment; and such a lone and self-supplying lamp was Elijah to the nation of Israel, then in great darkness, and drawing near its great captivity. Many distinguished individual lightbearers have graced the several ages of time, but none of them so marked and conspicuous in self-standing loneness as these two. Never but once did the human race depend for a knowledge of God's purposes upon one mere man as it depended upon Enoch; and never but once did the Hebrew faith hang upon one mere man, as it hung upon Elijah and his ministrations. He was himself "the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof." (2 Kings 2:12.) Looking through the world for two men preeminently entitled to the name of "the two lamps," we must inevitably settle upon Enoch and Elijah, who, as "the two lamps," are mysteriously preserved to come again for the illumination of still darker times, after the same style as of old.

[111] Concerning the absence of the candlestick here, Mede says: "I confess I am here at a nonplus, neither have I yet found out a reason of this difference, apt and evident enough." Had he located these Witnesses in the judgment-times, where alone they belong, he could have been at no such loss for an explanation.

"Which stand before the Lord of the earth." This is peculiar language, but exactly fitted to the same conclusions. "Lord of the earth" is not the Christian title of God; for the Church, like Abraham in Canaan, is only a pilgrim and a sojourner here, and Satan is now the god of this world. The characteristic name of our God in the Gospel is, "The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet, when Israel was about to cross the Jordan, and to possess the promised land as a divine nation, God was called "Lord of all the earth." (Joshua 3:11-13.) When Jerusalem was conquered and its people carried away captive to Babylon, the Most High took the name of "the God of heaven." (Daniel 2:18; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 2:37; Daniel 2:44, etc.) When they came back to rebuild the temple, and repossess their land, and re-establish their holy state, God was again called "the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:14.) But when He is styled Lord of the earth, the word is Adon, Master, and not Jehovah. It would, therefore, seem to be a theocratic title, having relation to a divine nationality and government upon the earth. If so, the occurrence of it here, again bespeaks the Jew in his own land, and Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt; and proves that this part of the Apocalypse relates, not to the middle centuries of Christendom, as so many think, but to that time when the glorious Christ is taking forcible mastery of the earth, and setting up upon it His own visible supremacy and kingdom.


These two Witnesses "stand before the Lord of the earth." This standing before or in the presence of the Lord, or the king, ordinarily signifies the enjoyment of a near relation, acceptableness and authority, as the servants or officers of the Lord or king. But this is otherwise so clearly expressed and implied with regard to these Witnesses, that we are prompted to look for something more peculiar and characteristic in the phrase as here employed. If we keep to the strict reading of the text, this standing of the Witnesses before the Lord of the earth was already a matter of fact when the statement was given to John. It is not said that they will stand before the Lord in the time and office of their prophesying, but that they were then, while the Angel was speaking, standing before the Lord of the earth. To keep rigidly to the words then, these Witnesses were persons already living in the time of John, and hence not churches and bodies of men born centuries afterwards;-living also a true bodily life, for still capable of bodily death, as shown from the killing of them by the Beast. But John's earthly contemporaries have all been dead for ages, and were all dead long before the time at which any one has located these two Witnesses. Being alive then in the time of John, and still living a bodily life susceptible of bodily death, and thus surviving all John's earthly contemporaries, they must have been living in heaven, having been taken thither without dying. This would also seem to be the more particular sense of the phrase "standing before the Lord." When the Saviour exhorts to watchfulness and prayer, that we may be accounted worthy to escape the judgment sorrows, "and to stand before the Son of man," what is it that He most of all proposes to us, but transference to the presence of Jesus in the heavenly spaces without the intervention of death? And if so, why may not this standing of the two Witnesses before the Lord of the earth in the time of John, be taken as specially descriptive of a corresponding transfer and continuity of bodily existence bestowed upon them? Dying is falling-ceasing to stand-becoming prostrate; and, by just antithesis, standing is living-continuity of bodily life uninterrupted by death. And in this sense, to stand before the Lord must involve transfer to where the Lord is, without the suffering of death. If then these two Witnesses, destined to be murdered by the Beast, were standing before the Lord in uninterrupted bodily life at the time these words concerning them were spoken to John, who could they be but Enoch and Elijah? Of all men that have lived in heaven or on earth, these lone two answer to the description. They were still standing in the time of John, never having fallen under the power of death; and they were standing before the Lord of the earth, having been miraculously conveyed away from among men into the mysterious heavens, where they still stand in waiting readiness to fulfil any commands of their Lord, even though it should be to return to the earth, here to repeat in increased intensity their great deeds of old, and have added to their crowns that of martyrdom also.

Thus, then, it would seem to me, that we have sufficiently identified these mysterious Witnesses, and also in strict accord with all the terms and surroundings of the record, without straining language or forcing history, as in every other interpretation that has been given. Other arguments lie couched in what further is revealed concerning them, which will be brought out when we reach the places. But I must close for the present, which I do in the words of Paul, written not without some relation to this very subject: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." (Romans 11:33.)

Verses 5-14

Lecture 24

(Revelation 11:5-14)

THE TWO WITNESSES CONTINUED--THEIR TIMES, NOT GOSPEL TIMES, EVIL TIMES, TIMES OF INTENSE SUPERNATURALISM, JUDGMENT TIMES--PROPHETS OF THE COMING JUDGE--EVINCE THE JUDGMENT SPIRIT-INFLICT GREAT PLAGUES--ARE RESTITUTIVE PROPHETS FOR JEWS AND GENTILES--PREVENT THE UTTER DESTRUCTION OF THE RACE--IMMORTAL TILL THEIR WORK IS DONE, FINALLY VANQUISHED AND SLAIN-REFUSED BURIAL-JOY OVER THEIR DEATH--THEIR RESURRECTION AND RECALL TO HEAVEN--THE EFFECT--A GREAT EARTHQUAKE-THOUSANDS DESTROYED--MIGHTY TERROR--CONCLUSION OF THE SUBJECT.

Revelation 11:5-14. (Revised Text.) - And if any one willeth to injure them, fire issueth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any one willeth to injure them, thus must he be killed.


These have power to shut the heaven that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying: and they have power upon the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they will.

And when they shall have completed their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them; and their corpse [shall lie] upon the broad place of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. And [certain ones] from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations behold their corpse three days [and] half, and suffer hot their corpses to be put into a sepulchre.

And they that dwell in the land rejoice upon them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt in the land.

And after the three days and half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those who beheld them.

And they heard a great voice out of the heaven saying to them, Come up hither. And they went up into the heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And in that hour there happened a great earthquake, and the tenth of the city fell, and were killed by the earthquake seven thousand names of men; and the remained became terrified and gave glory to the God of the heaven.

The second woe is past; behold, the third woe cometh quickly.


I have noted some of the reasons for the uniform belief of the early Church, that the Two Witnesses here spoken of are individual persons, and that they are none other than Enoch and Elijah, returned again to this world in its last evil days, according to other sacred prophecies and ancient beliefs. The subject is full of interest, and is far from having been exhausted. A number of important inquiries and circumstances remain to be considered; and to these I now propose to direct attention.

Assuming that I have sufficiently identified these Witnesses as the returned Enoch and Elijah, I invite you to note more particularly,


I. THEIR TIMES;

II. THEIR DOINGS;

III. THEIR END;


praying the God of prophecy to prosper the attempt to search out the mysteries of his holy Word, and to guide us into a right knowledge of the predications he has given for our learning.

I. As to the Times of these Witnesses quite a good deal has necessarily been anticipated in the preceding lecture; but, that we may have the picture more fully before us, a few further observations are necessary.

1. The times are not Gospel times. There are indications of the presence of the Jew and his temple, but no traces whatever of the present Church. Though symbols, which in their original application embraced the Church, are referred to, they are modified and recast so as to eliminate from them what specially represented the Church. "The two olive trees" appear, but the golden candlestick is gone, and in its place is nothing but two lone lamps,-the two Witnesses themselves. Ministers of God are present, but their spirit and method are entirely different from what pertains to ministers of the Gospel in the present dispensation. These witnesses kill, torment, deal out fiery judgments upon their enemies, and avenge and resent the very wish to injure them, even before it is outwardly manifested in act. This is not according to the Christian spirit, and very unlike the commands which are upon us now. We are not to avenge ourselves, not to render evil for evil, not to smite and kill our enemies, but to love them and do good to them, and to be "harmless as doves." Even Jesus himself, who had all power, refused to exercise it after the style of these Two Witnesses, and has given us commandment to follow his steps. He tells us that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them; and in this spirit his servants have ever acted. Stephen is stoned, James is beheaded, Paul and Silas are beaten and imprisoned, Peter is crucified, Polycarp is burned, Antipas is put to death; but neither of them resists, nor attempts to defend himself by miracle, or to avenge the wrong inflicted. But here are ministers of God of another order. "Fire issueth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any one willeth to injure them, thus must he be killed." The preaching of the Gospel is a thing of joy and gladness. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation!" (Isaiah 52:7.) But these Witnesses are arrayed in sackcloth, and their very garb betokens calamity and judgment. Nature itself is joyful over the course of the messengers of grace. The prophetic word was, "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree." (Isaiah 55:12-13.) But here the heavens are shut up that no rain falls, the waters are turned to blood, the earth is smitten by many a plague, and they that dwell on it are tormented. "Peace on earth and good will toward men "is the keynote of the Gospel; but the ministry of these Witnesses is one of the three great apocalyptic woes. It is simply impossible, therefore, to find place for these Witnesses as Gospel ministers of the present dispensation. They have quite another commission, and operate for quite other ends. They remind us rather of the old theocratic order, when Jeroboam's hand was withered by the unnamed "man of God" when put forth to lay hold on him, and fire from heaven consumed the soldiers of Ahaziah that came against Elijah on the hill.

2. They are very evil times-times of great affliction and sorrow for God's true ministers. This is signified by their habit. They gird themselves in sackcloth, as Jacob when he mourned for his son, as King David in his grief and abhorrence at the unjust killing of Abner, as Daniel when he came before the Lord to lament the sins of Israel, as Hezekiah when he heard the blasphemies and boasts of Sennacherib, and as the priests of God when the holy services of the temple were intercepted. The world is so full of malignant evil, that they cannot maintain a being in it without the power of miracle. Hell has incarnated itself upon earth. From the abyss has come up a mysterious Beast, to whom Satan gives power and authority as his chosen agent, whose mouth is open in blasphemies against God and His tabernacle, after whom all the world wonders, and whom the great mass of men worship and adore. War rages against the holy ones, and overcomes them, and kills even the fire-guarded Witnesses themselves, whilst the people congratulate each other and make merry over the death of God's most extraordinary prophets. Times there have often been for good men to sigh, and cry, and wrap themselves in the habiliments of lamentation and woe because of the wickedness and evils of the world, but none to compare with these times of the Two Witnesses.

3. They are also times of intense supernaturalism and miracle. All the ordinary laws of things are shaken and bent, like reeds in a swollen river; and extraordinary agencies and results put themselves forth from all sides. Saints from heaven and potencies from hell are upon the scene, as never was the case to the same extent or in the same manner before. Here are Enoch and Elijah, who so miraculously disappeared from the earth so many ages ago, again as miraculously moving and ministering among men, and breathing fire which devoureth those who will to injure them. They have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls during all their ministry; they have power over waters to turn them to blood; and every species of plague is in their hands wherewith to smite the earth and torment its wicked inhabitants.


And a similar preternaturalism presents itself on the side of evil. When Moses comes to Pharaoh with his heavenly signs and wonders, hell's priests are there too with their perplexing mimicries and lying wonders. So here. Supernatural divine prophets appear, and they are at once confronted with a supernatural man from the abyss, and his false prophet at his right hand, doing great wonders, making fire come from the sky in the sight of men, deceiving them that dwell on the earth by those miracles which he had power to do, giving life and speech to an image, causing men to worship it, and all to be beheaded who will not conform to the detestable idolatry. "As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth." The worst impieties of all ages shall concentrate in one. All the power of hell itself shall come into play upon earth. Such times the world has not yet seen. Indeed human philosophy has become so wise as to banish from the range of possibility even the smaller variations from the ordinary course of nature which stand recorded of the past. But all such wisdom is folly. There is nothing permanent in nature. It is not true that "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." Mighty changes and variations have occurred, and will yet occur. Nature's laws are not God, and are ever subject to modifications both from heaven and from hell. Satan could impoverish and sicken Job as Moses could afflict Pharaoh. Nay, here it stands written, from the lips of Him who is the Alpha and Omega, that there shall come times when spiritual potencies, good and bad, will show their activity on the earth, as if nature herself were about to be entirely superseded. Men are astounded, and hold back from believing when they read the doings of Abraham's God among the idols of Egypt, or in the camp of the pilgrim Hebrews. They hesitate, and talk of fiction, metaphor, superstition, orientalism, exaggeration, when the life and deeds of Jesus are the theme. But their doubts about the supernatural, and all their grave science on the subject, shall yet be utterly confounded. Here are times indicated, which shall bring men on earth face to face with living powers from heaven and hell in the gigantic struggle of their last conflict, and fill the world with wonders, of which those in Egypt were but the dim foreshadows;-times when that Devil, whose existence some count a mere myth, will put himself forth in things so marvellous that, if it were possible, the very elect would be deceived, whilst the deluded world gathers as one man to his worship as their God and Saviour. People may doubt, and shake their heads, and vaunt the sobrieties of their better philosophy; but such will be the times of these Two Witnesses.

4. The same will of course be judgment times. We must not lose sight of the fact, that in all these wonders of the Apocalypse, we have to do with "the Day of the Lord," and the winding up of all the affairs of this present world. This is the one great theme, from the seven Epistles onward. Phase after phase, and act after act, of the drama of this world's ending have already passed before us, as we have gone forward with these expositions. In the preceding chapter we saw this selfsame speaker of the text, who is none other than Christ himself, setting his burning feet on sea and land, holding in his possession the open title to both, and swearing by the eternal Maker of all things that there should be no more delay. Between that oath and the completed mystery lay only these days of the Two Witnesses, and a little season beyond the finishing of their testimony. The days of the seventh angel, when he sounds, bring the consummation of the whole matter; and that angel stands ready to sound the moment these Witnesses pass from the stage. Their times, therefore, belong to the period when judgment is hastening to its culmination.


The old prophecy also says that Elijah is to be sent immediately "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;" that is, immediately anterior to the outpouring of God's consuming wrath upon the wicked in its highest stress and fulness, while the woes of judgment are surging hither and thither through the world all ready for the final consummating act. And one of these Witnesses is Elijah. Their times are, therefore, the fearful times of the judgment.

II. We come, then, to note THEIR DOINGS or work.

1. They are here presented in the special character of Witnesses-prophetic Witnesses. A witness is one who deposes to the truth, explains it, attests it. All the prophets were God's Witnesses. So were the Apostles, who so solemnly and convincingly testified to the Gospel and its facts. So, too, all the confessors of Christ, who gave up their lives rather than surrender their faith, are called Martyrs, Witnesses. And so even Christ himself is "the faithful and true Witness," because of what he taught and testified, sealing it with his blood. The character, therefore, under which these Two Witnesses are described, indicates the nature of their administrations. They are great messengers from God, sent into the world in its last dreadful extremity, to teach, explain, and attest His truth and purposes. As Enoch and Noah in the old world, as Moses before Pharaoh, as Jonah in Nineveh, as Elijah against Ahab and Jezebel, as John the Baptizer to Jerusalem and Herod, and as the Apostles in the world lying in sin, so are these Witnesses to the populations and powers of their day. They rebuke reigning iniquity, unmask Satan's falsities, insist upon the prompt repentance of sinners, and maintain righteousness over against apostasy and abounding wickedness. They prophesy, expound the Scriptures, demand obedience to God, point out the only way of escape from oncoming damnation, and labour to turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God.

2. But they are not only prophetic Witnesses, but by emphasis the Witnesses of the Angel who is speaking to John, "My Witnesses." This is proof positive that the Angel is Christ himself. Angels are often God's ministers, but he has never sent and endowed prophets to be the servants and messengers of angels. Nor have angels anything going on in this world so as to have use for witnesses. And when engaged in doing for God and His Church, they are never recognized as other than fellow-servants and brother agents with prophets and apostles. (Revelation 22:9.) We everywhere read of prophets and witnesses of God and Christ, but nowhere do we read of prophets and preachers of angels. Yet, here are two of the most extraordinary prophetic Witnesses we know of, whom this Angel designates as emphatically His Witnesses. The same must, therefore, be Christ himself, and cannot, in the nature of things, be any other.


But this Angel is not Christ in His present office and attitude as our sin-bearer and intercessor; but Christ as the mighty Judge and King, about to close up the whole history of this present world, having already set his burning feet upon it, and sworn by Him that liveth forever and ever that there shall be no more delay. And it is in this particular attitude and work that these Witnesses are by emphasis His. They are not Gospel ministers according to the present order; for the Church period is past. They are extraordinary persons for an extraordinary work. They witness for Christ, not as the bleeding and pleading Lamb of God, but as the avenger of his elect, who is about to break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. They are Judgment prophets sent to resist the gigantic blasphemies of the final Antichrist, give to the infatuated world its last awful warning, assure of the coming avalanche of destruction, and put into condition for deliverance a people to be carried over to that new and better order of things which is then to follow.

3. To this also agree the powers which they exercise. Everything is full of the spirit of judgment. "Fire issueth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies." Gospel ministers also have enemies, who often hate and persecute them unto death; but they are not at liberty thus to defend themselves. These Witnesses live in other times. The Angel has placed his feet of fire upon the earth, and his Witnesses are armed with fire, with command to use it. They emit or breathe it from their mouths the same as the Euphratean horsemen. I can make nothing of the record except to take it literally as it is written. Nor do I find any difficulty in the way of such an acceptation. The horsemen were supernatural beings from hell, and the Two Witnesses are supernatural beings from heaven; and, in either case, I know not why the thing may not be true to the exact letter. If we are to think of gunpowder in the case of the horsemen, we must do the same here, and set down these witnesses as a brace of sharp-shooters. We do, indeed, know of holy prophets using miraculous fire against the wicked, but I know of no case in which they carried rifles. Nor would it seem congruous for Enoch and Elijah, after having been these thousands of years in heaven, to go about the earth as holy messengers of God with each a breech-loader on his shoulder. They will need no such weapons. He who, after his brief sojourn in Sinai, could speak fire from heaven which consumed fifty soldiers at a time, and repeat the operation at will, certainly would be at no loss to speak killing fire upon his assailants, after having gone to heaven in a chariot of fire, and lived there amid the celestial splendours for thousands of years. And come now again into the world as God's great judgment-prophet, it befits the times, himself, and the Angel whose he is, to prove to the doomed world by the very breath of his mouth that the devouring wrath of the Almighty is fully kindled, and ready to break forth in fiery destruction to all who stand out against his messengers, or seek to destroy them.[112]

[112] "And if any one willeth to injure them, thus [by fire] must be killed." Even the Beast from the abyss, who shall finally slay these witnesses, will be cast alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). So that everyone seeking to do them harm will be overwhelmed with the same element, first or last.

But these Witnesses not only have power and command to kill their assailants with fire, but otherwise to torment and afflict the wicked world. They breathe the law-spirit, and they execute law-penalties. Of old the threat upon apostasy was: "Thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed." (Deuteronomy 28:23-24.) And now that the time has come for all God's threats to be executed, these messengers of his come to attest the true state of things, "shut the heaven that rain may not fall during the days of their Prophesying." When Elijah was the first time on earth," he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months" (James 5:17-18); and the same will be repeated when he comes again,--repeated in token of the presence and anger of the same sin-avenging Jehovah.[113] It is for the great sin of idol worship, trust in false gods, and sacrilegious desecration of God's temple, that this shutting off of rain is the special penalty. (Leviticus 26:1; Leviticus 26:19; Zechariah 10:1-2; Jeremiah 14:22; Haggai 1:9-11.) We thus see reflected something of the characteristics of the times of these Witnesses, and of the more specific aim of their prophetic endeavours. The shutting of the heaven tells of infamous idolatry, false confidence, and defilement of the temple, and the infliction of this particular chastisement by these Witnesses likewise tells of efforts on their part to set on foot again the true worship of Jehovah in his own chosen house.

[113] Modern expositors, such as Elliott, Gill, and the historical school in general, can make nothing of this drought but a drought of doctrine, a famine of the word. This is the more remarkable, seeing that throughout the whole period of this absence of rain the most extraordinary prophets of all time are witnessing, and prophesying, and working miracles, so as to affect "peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations" with their faithful testimony. That is as much as to say, the very raingods themselves are here, and operating with unwonted power, but no rain comes! If such interpretation means anything, it makes these Witnesses very dry preachers.


One of the great plagues which Moses brought upon Egypt was the turning of the waters into blood. It was an infliction particularly related to the bloody and oppressive tyranny which had been enacted against God's people. In like manner these Witnesses "have power upon the waters to turn them to blood." The thing having been done once, there is nothing to hinder it from being done again. And as oppression, persecution, and wholesale murder, were the particular forms of sin which brought this plague in the days of Moses, its recurrence here tells of similar transgression, and shows further against what the endeavours of these Witnesses are directed. They come to rebuke and resent the blasphemies of unprincipled power, the oppressions of assumed authority, the murders of persecuting government, attesting by the nature of their infliction the near coming of the Almighty to overwhelm these bloody tyrants and all their hosts forever. Nay, "to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they will," is the intrusted prerogative of these Witnesses, that they may prove how everything is in the hand of Him who sends them, and is now ready to be turned into enginery of irresistible destruction to those who still persist in their impieties.

4. These Witnesses are "the two olive-trees." This refers us back to Zachariah, where Zerubbabel and Jeshua appear as the two olive-trees. These were the two special ministers of God, the one a prince and the other a priest, who led the advance in Israel's return from the great captivity, stirred up the people to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, and restored again something of the old polity and worship to its ancient place. A still greater desolation has since come upon Israel for the rejection of Christ and his salvation. It is to continue "till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," and the present Church order has run its course. Then is to come another restoration, and a "restitution of all things," when God "will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land, and will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel...and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children forever; and he will set his sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." (Ezekiel 36:1-38.) The time for this is everywhere given as the judgment time-somewhere about the period of these Two Witnesses. And if they are Zerubbabel and Jeshua in some sort over again, we thus have a very distinct light thrown upon the character of their work. They are to lead the restoration of fallen Israel. They are to go up with the vanguard to their ancient seat. They are to inaugurate the work of bringing back to the ancient worship God's long-rejected and afflicted people. They are to labour for the setting up again of the temple and the theocratic rule, and for the return of the smitten nation to its true God and Saviour King.

5. But all this is made still clearer when we connect with it the literal prophecies concerning the coming again of Elijah. We find those prophecies in the Old Testament and the New, from the servants, and from the Lord himself. It was the work of Elijah when he lived on earth to convince and lead back the apostate people to the God of their fathers, and with the spirit of judgment to testify against the heathen falsities which had taken possession of the nation. John the Baptizer, who came "in the spirit and power of Elias," fulfilled a like office, called the people to repentance, and by the threats of impending doom incited them to flee from the coming wrath, and put themselves in readiness for the Messiah King, even then standing unrecognized among them. And so Malachi tells us that, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, Elijah the prophet will come, "and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." (Malachi 4:5-6.) So, too, the Saviour himself tells us that "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." (Matthew 17:11.)[114]

[114] It is simply impossible, on any true principles of interpretation, to refer either of these passages simply and only, or in their true grammatical import, to John the Baptizer. They had him in view, but only, so to speak, as a spiritual Elias, one who performed in some sort the Elias work for the first coming, but not the true and real Elias of the second coming. The observations of the learned Joseph Mede are here very forcible.

As to the prophecy given in the last chapter of Malachi, quoted by St. Mark, and by our Saviour, Matthew 11:14, he says: "It seems by Malachi himself to be applied, not only to the first coming of Christ, but also to his second coming to judgment. For in his last chapter, speaking of the coming of that day which shall burn like an oven, wherein all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble, and it shall burn them up, leaving neither root nor branch, and he addeth, 'Behold [saith the Lord], I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of that great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn [or restore] the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' If we will not admit the day here described to be the day of judgment, I know scarce any description of that day in the Old Testament but we may elude. For the phrase of turning (or, as I had rather translate it, restoring, as the LXX ἀποκαταστήσει) the heart of the fathers, etc, the meaning is, that this Elias should bring the refractory and unbelieving posterity of the Jewish nation to have the same heart and mind their holy fathers and progenitors had, who feared God and believed his promises, that so their fathers might as it were rejoice in them, and own them for their children: that is, he should convert them to the faith of that Christ whom their fathers hoped in and looked for; lest continuing obstinate in their unbelief till the great day of Christ's second coming, they might perish along with the rest of the enemies of his kingdom. Therefore the son of Sirach, in his praise of Elias the Tishbite, paraphraseth this place after this manner: 'Who wast ordained (saith he) an ἔλεγχος or type [he should rather have said a means of testing, confuting, reproving, convincing, as in the presence of great presumption and false pretences and claims; for this is the meaning of ἔλεγχω, and answers well to the office of a Witness as in the case before us], for the times to come, to pacify the wrath of the Lord's judgment before it break forth into fury, and to turn the heart of the father unto the son, and to restore the tribes of Israel.' (Ecclesiasticus 48:10.)

"For the better understanding of this we must know that the old prophets for the most part spake of the coming of Christ indefinitely and in general, without that distinction of first and second coming which we have more clearly learned in the Gospel. For this reason the prophets (except Daniel, who distinguished those comings, and the Gospel out of them) speak of the things which should be at the coming of Christ indefinitely and all together, which we, who are now more fully informed by the revelation of his Gospel of this distinction of a twofold coming, must apply each of them to its proper time: those things which befit the state of his first coming unto it, and such things as befit the state of his second coming unto the second: and that which befits both alike (as this of a harbinger or messenger), may be applied to both [one being viewed through the other].

"Matthew 17:10-11, where his disciples immediately upon his transfiguration ask him, 'Why then say the Scribes that Elias must first come?' Our Saviour answers, 'Elias truly shall first come, καὶ ὰποκαταστήοει πὰντα, and shall restore all things.' These words our Saviour spake when John Baptist was now beheaded, and yet speaks of a thing future, ὰποκατοστήσει κὰντα, Elias shall come, and shall restore all things. How can this be spoken of John Baptist, unless he be to come again? Besides, I cannot see how this restoring of all things can be verified of the ministry of John Baptist at the first coming of Christ, which continued but a very short time, and did no such thing as these words seem to imply; for the restoring of all things belongs not to the first, but to the second coming of Christ, if we will believe St. Peter in his first sermon in the temple after Christ's ascension (Acts 3:19, etc), where he thus speaks unto the Jews: Repent (saith he) and be converted for the blotting out of your sins, that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. The word is the same ὰποκαταστάσεως πάντων. If the time of restoring all things be not till the second coming of Christ [as here proven], how could John Baptist restore all things at his first? If the Master come not to restore all things till then, surely his harbinger, who is to prepare his way for restoring all things, is not to be looked for till then."--Mede's Works, 1, 25, pp. 98, 99.

We may not be able to tell the full meaning of these words; but the reference is, above all, to the Jewish people. Malachi introduces the announcement of the coming again of "Elijah the prophet," with special command to remember "the law of Moses," and "the statutes" given through him in Horeb for all Israel. The "fathers" must needs be the heads of the Jewish race and economy, who first received God's Institutes, and best understood and observed them. The "children," then, must be their remoter descendants, contemplated as apostate and quite estranged from their holy ancestors. The turning and restoring must accordingly relate above all to the Jewish people, whatever minor relations it may have to the Gentiles. There is to be a bringing back of the branches that have been broken off, to be grafted again into their own native stock, purified, delivered, and settled after their old estates. And for this, among the rest, these Witnesses are sent, at least Elijah, whom we believe to be one of them. Hence the words of Augustine, that "it is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias, who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come, because we have good reason to believe that he is now alive.... When, therefore, he is come, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present understand carnally, and shall thus 'turn the heart of the fathers to the children.'... The meaning is, that the sons, that is the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, the prophets, and Moses himself among them, understood it. For the heart of the fathers shall be turned to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, when the children understand the law as the fathers did, and have the same sentiments."[115]

[115] Civitate Dei, xx, 629.

As John was sent "in the spirit and power of Elias," we may also see in his stirring mission an indication of what the work of the real Elias shall be. His office was, as declared by the Angel, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:16-17.) We know something of the thrilling power with which his voice rung out from the wilderness of Judea, assaulting the apostasies and sins of the nation, and demanding instant repentance and return to the ancient faith on pain of a speedy destruction. He was a bright and shining light in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation, turning "many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God," and making ready a people from among whom the Gospel derived its first adherents and the Church its apostolic leaders and princes. And thus, on the superior scale in which the original excels the picture, and the second Advent exceeds the first, will Elijah suddenly flash out the sharp messages of Jehovah in the last evil times, and draw forth from amid the incurable ungodliness a portion of the house of Jacob to become the centre of a new order in the final restoration.

6. And such an office with regard to the Jews on the part of Elijah, suggests and argues a corresponding office with regard to the Gentiles on the part of his fellow-Witness. Enoch was not a Jewish prophet. He lived and prophesied long before Moses and the law. It was through his ministry that a seed was prepared to survive the awful flood to become the heads and princes of the repeopled earth. The son of Sirach celebrates him as taken up alive to heaven, that he might be a token, teacher, witness, herald, of repentance to other generations.[116] Such a token and witness he was in his own degenerate times. Patristic poetry sings of him as the "signal ornament" of the patriarchal Church, who

By counsel strove
To recall peoples gone astray from God
And following misdeed, while raves on earth
The horde of robber renegades;[117]

[116] Ecclesiasticus 44:16, on which Arnold remarks: "As we meet with no account in Scripture of Enoch's sinning or repentance, it seems better to understand ὑπόδειγμα μετανοίας ταῖς γενεαῖς of his exhorting the people that shall then be alive to a speedy repentance, to prepare for the approaching judgment, and to resist the power of Antichrist."--Com. in loc.


[117] Five Books of Reply to Marcion, III, 20. See Clarke's Ante-Nicene Fathers, xviii, p. 344.

and inspiration tells of the pungency and fire with which he prophesied of the fearful coming of the Lord to execute judgment upon all, and settle accounts with the wicked for all their hard speeches and ungodly deeds. (Jude 1:14-15.) And as the future ministry of Elijah is to wear the same features as the first, only intensified and exalted, the same must also be true of Enoch, who comes with him as one of the Two Witnesses. His first mission was to the common world at large, then drawing toward its end in the flood; and so will be his future mission at the end of this present world, to prepare a people from among the Gentiles also to survive the great day, even though many whom he recovers to obedience may meet the fate of holy martyrs under the bloody reign of Antichrist.

7. The work of these Witnesses is then a merciful work. Though they appear in judgment times, and evince the severity of the judgment spirit, dealing out plague and fire, lashing and harassing the impious Beast from the abyss, tormenting them that dwell on the earth, killing all who venture to harm them, and causing all nations to feel the disturbing effect of their presence, they are still messengers of mercy on an errand of good and grace. True, their ministry will not be more effectual than it was when they prophesied of old. Israel as a nation will not then be turned back from its apostasy, and the world will not be deterred from acknowledging and worshipping the Antichrist. Because men love not the truth, even miracle and judgment will not persuade them. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.) Still, the sending and ministrations of these Witnesses is an act of mercy in the midst of wrath, and accomplishes a gracious purpose. Some are rescued and saved. But for these supernatural messengers the whole race would yield to the Antichrist, and perish with him. It is that the earth may not be utterly swallowed up under the terrible ban of final judgment, that they are sent. This is specifically stated in connection with the promise of the coming again of Elijah. The word is, "I will send you Elijah the prophet... and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:6.) The Hebrew word here rendered curse denotes utter destruction. It is one of the most fearful words in use among the Jews, and was specially applied to the extermination of the Canaanites, whose cities were razed to their foundations, and their inhabitants utterly destroyed.[118] And this fate would befall the whole race but for the ministry of these Witnesses, and the gathering out of an elect remnant by their instrumentality, for which remnant's sake the desolating and all-consuming terrors of "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" are measurably pacified and softened. When Jerusalem fell, except those days of awful suffering had been shortened, none could possibly have survived; "but for the elect's sake those days" were "shortened." (Matthew 24:21-22.) And a corresponding modification in the stress of tribulation and ruin is to occur again in connection with the last awful catastrophe, by reason of what these Witnesses achieve.

[118] See Henderson's Minor Prophets, in loc.; also Newcome's Minor Prophets, in loc.

III. Notice, then, WHAT BECOMES OF THEM. Their career, though illustrious, and crowded with miracle from beginning to end, is very brief. "They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days"--just three years and six months. The mightiest of sacred ministries on earth have been the shortest.

1. These Witnesses are immortal till their work is done. How they are nourished, or whether they partake at all of earthly food, is not told us. Elijah was supernaturally fed when on earth the first time; nor can much less be said of John, the spiritual Elias; and there is no reason for doubting that it will be more eminently so when the true Elijah comes again. At any rate, nothing can harm these Witnesses till they "have completed their testimony." They that undertake to injure or interfere with them are instantly burned to death. No power of earth or hell can touch or bind them. There was a time when Elijah fled from the face of Jezebel, and Herod imprisoned John, and finally cut off his head. But there can be no intimidation, no imprisonment, no killing of these holy messengers till they have quite fulfilled all that they are sent to do.

2. When their work is finished they become vanquishable and are vanquished. "When they shall have completed their testimony, the Beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them." Whether in consequence of a withdrawal of their power of self-defence and the gradual wasting of their heavenly vigour, like the fading of the celestial halo from the face of Moses, or by an enlarged licence to hell to act out its murderous malignity, the potencies of the underworld eventually seize them and put them to death. What form of death they die is not described. The reference to crucifixion in Revelation 11:8 can hardly be applied to them. We know that beheading is the ordinary mode of execution under the Antichrist. (Revelation 20:4.) John, who was the spiritual Elias, was beheaded. And it is to be inferred that so these Witnesses are killed.

3. Their dead bodies are denied sepulture. Their corpses are exposed "upon the broad place of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:33); and there these last great prophets, like their Lord before them, meet their end. Jerusalem is called a "great city;"[119] and as there is another great earthly city spoken of in this book, the further mark is given, that it is the one "which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt." The introduction of this word "spiritually" settles the literalness of the narrative. Only the names "Sodom and Egypt" are to be spiritualized, or taken in a sense different from the letter. Men mistake God's mind, and pervert God's word, when they refuse to accept and interpret the Bible as it reads. When he means it to be taken otherwise, he gives us indication to that effect. Jerusalem is not Sodom; and yet, "spiritually" considered, or Jerusalem in apostasy, is a Sodom, and is repeatedly so called by the prophets. (Isaiah 1:9-10; Isaiah 3:8-9; Deuteronomy 32:30-33; Jeremiah 23:14.) So also is it "spiritually" likened to an Egypt, because of its idolatries. (Ezekiel 23:3-4; Ezekiel 23:8; Ezekiel 23:19.) But to identify the place beyond mistake, it is further described as the city "where also their Lord was crucified," which was none other than the literal Jerusalem. The main description is a moral one, indicative of the ripeness of affairs for the great destruction that impends, but it is likewise local and geographic, to distinguish the city now in question from great Babylon, with which some improperly confound it. Everything betokens that we are here on Jewish soil, and have to do with the Jewish capital. And there, in the broad place of public concourse,[120] the dead bodies of these Witnesses are exposed. "And certain ones from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations behold their corpses three days and a half, and suffer not their corpses to be put into a sepulchre." This is so intense an outrage upon common decency and humanity, that it is full of significance here. Even to the worst of criminals the law awarded burial on the same day of their execution (Deuteronomy 21:22-23); but all law and right feeling is set at defiance with regard to these prophets of God. The exposure of their dead bodies tells of a most extraordinary malignity and spite, and attests the extraordinary potency and effectiveness of the objects of it. It shows at once a devilishness of unwonted intensity in the people, and a terribleness of efficiency in the Witnesses in provoking a fiendishness and resentment so monstrous and unrelenting that it could not be placated by their death, but continued to reek and vent itself upon their lifeless remains after they were dead.

[119] Alford in loc. erroneously says that "Jerusalem is never called by this name." Nehemiah describes Jerusalem as a "city large and great." (Nehemiah 7:3-4.) Jeremiah, speaking of the desolation of Jerusalem, says, "They shall say every man to his neighbour, wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?" (Jeremiah 22:5; Jeremiah 22:8.) Compare Revelation 21:10, "that great city, the holy Jerusalem."

[120] In 1 Esdras 9:38, we read of "the whole multitude coming together into the broad place of the holy porch toward the East." See also Jeremiah 5:1; 2 Chronicles 32:6; 1 Kings 22:10.

4. Great joy is experienced over their death. "They that dwell in the land rejoice upon them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another." These Witnesses were a terrible dread and annoyance to the Beast and his adherents; and many a sore torment had they occasioned to the wicked. Those torments were indeed but the earnests and precursors of far greater woes now ready to break forth. But so insane are Satan's dupes, that they count their redemption come, if only they can get rid of God's faithful ministers. Now that the two mighty Witnesses are dead, they dismiss all further fear, consider their greatest trouble at an end, and send presents and congratulations to each other, as upon some grand jubilee.[121]

[121] The joy over a reputed enemy's death, and refusal to bury him, have been man's modes of expressing enmity in all ages" and countries. Thus it was at the death of Phocion, of Cleomanas, of Tiberius Gracchus, and others. Over John Huss, burnt at Constance, the Council held banquets, and testified their joy, as over enemies destroyed.--Matheetees, in loc.

5. Three days and a half the holy prophets lie in death, their corpses a public spectacle, their killing celebrated as a general benefaction. The days are literal days, not years. Corpses could not endure to be thus exposed for three and a half years. Three years and a half they prophesied, and three days and a half they lie under the power of death. It was long enough to prove the reality of their death, of which the representatives of the nations were so anxious to be perfectly assured.

6. But they do not remain dead. "After the three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet."


The extraordinariness of the death and resurrection harmonizes well with the extraordinariness of the history of Enoch and Elijah throughout. Of old, they left the world as no other mortal ever did, and here they are resurrected in a band by themselves, and under circumstances quite differing from all other resurrections. Whilst their exposed corpses were being watched and guarded by men overjoyed at their destruction, those lifeless frames took vitality again. The spirit of life from God re-entered them, and they arose from their prostration, and stood upright, gazing round upon the terrified people who beheld them, and flashing a fresh and still deeper alarm into the guilty souls late so joyous over their death. "The triumph of the wicked is short;" and the "great fear" which now "fell upon those who beheld them," was only the intenser because of the fiendish indignities which had since been added to the sum of previous crimes. Conscience is a fearful executioner. A very hell of plagues and torments instantly throngs the imaginations of these astounded spectators. They remember the power and terribleness of these Witnesses while they lived; how the mere will to injure them was resented with sudden death; and what revolting and distressing afflictions they had given forth upon the worshippers of the Beast. And now that organized and Satanic war, and veritable killing, and the baseness of the most malignant insults after the killing, had been perpetrated, what was to be apprehended from this their sudden resurrection! But these holy messengers had completed their work on earth, and Jesus himself was now to be their avenger. No more devouring fire issues from their mouths, and no further plagues do they inflict. By the power of God life is restored to them, even a higher, more glorious, more indestructible life than that which was given them in their marvellous translation. They rise and stand upon their feet. Their enemies behold them. The reality of their resurrection is as manifest as was the reality of their death. The fiendish joy of the enemy is suddenly turned into overwhelming terror. Guilty consciences are now the prophets that torment the people. The Witnesses prophesy no more. They only stand up, and other fires seize their adversaries' souls.

7. Heaven immediately recalls them. They stood by Christ in their testimony, faithful unto death; and Christ now rewards their fidelity, receives them to himself, and crowns them among his heavenly princes. "They heard a great voice out of heaven saying to them, Come up hither. And they went up into the heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them." People who would not believe in the resurrection and ascension of Christ for their hope and consolation, are now compelled to witness the resurrection and ascension of his last Witnesses, to their horror and dismay. The record is literal. As well might we think to do away with the literal reality of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ himself, as with the literal reality of the death, resurrection, and ascension of these Two Witnesses. Against their wishes and theories, many have been compelled to admit the inevitable literalness of "the first resurrection" in Revelation 20:1-15; but much more clear, circumstantial, and certain is the literalness of the account of these Witnesses and their marvellous end. I therefore receive and hold it for a literal history.[122]

[122] Stuart in loc. says, "The whole scene is here a mere symbol passing in vision before the eye of the seer." He is utterly mistaken. It is not a vision of the seer at all. John never saw the first particular in the case. The whole thing is a narration from the lips of the mighty angel simply taken down by John as an amanuensis. See chap. Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:1-3. Stuart takes the earthquake and killing in Revelation 13:1-18 to be literal; why not then the death, resurrection, and ascension of these witnesses in resentment of whose wrongs this judgment is inflicted? He also is forced to admit the literalness of the resurrection in Revelation 20:6; why not this?


When Jesus ascended, and his friends stood gazing after him in tearful wonder and adoration, holy angels lingered by with words of promise and comfort. Here there is another gazing into heaven, as his prophets go up. But the gazers now are his murderous foes. Marvels follow here also; but they are marvels of judgment. Not loving angels with words of consolation, but executioners of divine vengeance with signs of doom show their presence. "In that hour there happened a great earthquake." It is a literal earthquake, for it overthrows buildings and kills men." The tenth of the city fell, and were killed by the earthquake seven thousand names of men." Earthquakes attended the death and resurrection of Jesus also, but we read of no deaths occasioned by them. Those were days of mercy and promise; these are days of judgment. A tenth part of the city is thrown into ruins, and many people are slain. Seven thousand men are enumerated as killed by this earthquake.[123] The record says "names of men;" but men's names stand for those who have them, and they have them in proportion as those names are in people's mouths. Hence many understand by it men of name, note, and distinction, being seven thousand in number. When Jesus said to the Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:4), "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;" he meant persons in Sardis. So when the same Speaker here talks of names being killed by an earthquake, it is equally clear that the reference is to persons. Perhaps the phrase is meant to denote only men of name, but it certainly denotes men, of whom seven thousand perish from the earth. They would not allow burial to the slain Witnesses, and now they themselves are buried alive in the ruins of their own houses, and in hell forever.

[123] Cocceius, Elliott, Cumming, Barnes, etc., understand that these thousands represent the Dutch provinces which were lost to the Papacy at the Reformation (!), that these "seven thousand names of men" denotes seven Dukes or Dukedoms (!!), and that this killing of them by the earthquake really describes the setting of them up in self-living independence (!!!). A glorious theme for Christ's solemn revelation from heaven as a special message to his Churches in all time! Well does old James Robertson remark to this: "If we explain prophecy in this way, we may bring ourselves under very great hardships. It is a very rude way of treating Scripture."


We may well suppose that such a cluster of stunning marvels would not be without effect, even upon the hardened wretches of those evil times. Amazement, conviction, terror, strike in upon their guilty souls, and for the moment they acknowledge the hand of God and seem ready to repent. "The remainder," that is, those not destroyed with the seven thousand, "became terrified and gave glory to God." To see those dreaded Witnesses come to life again, and go up in triumph to the sky, and, in the same hour, one house in every ten of the city fallen, seven thousand men of name killed by the disaster, and the world itself rocking as if in the throes of dissolution, was more than even their indurated hearts could bear. Against their will they are forced to the confession that God's almighty power is in it.


Bengel thinks we have token here of an ample conversion. He is evidently mistaken. Such a terror-extorted giving of glory to the God of heaven, bears not the marks of genuine penitence. Neither do we find it bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. The Beast goes on with his iniquities, and the masses continue to serve and adore him. When true repentance shows itself, judgment delays or lingers; but there is no postponement here. The consternation of the survivors of the earthquake concludes the second woe; but instantly the word is, "Behold, the third Woe cometh quickly." And that third woe is the consummation of woes. We, therefore, do violence to the record to take this forced confession as evidence or token of revival and reformation.[124] Pharaoh and his magicians smarting under the plagues of Moses, the Philistines under the sore afflictions which accompanied their profanation of the holy Ark, and the Roman centurion amid the signs that attended the death of Jesus, made similar acknowledgments, and gave utterance to similar convictions; but in neither are we assured of any real conversion to God. Startling calamities and bitter afflictions sometimes turn men from their careless and wicked ways; but the religion of fear and dread is never to be trusted. Remove the pressure, and things relapse into their former estate. These people were terror-stricken. Their alarm carried them captive for the moment. They saw and felt that Jehovah's hand was in these things, and confessed it. But their emotions were only transient, had no right seat in the heart, and brought forth no lasting fruits unto holiness. When the demons encountered Christ, they too were terrified, confessed his Deity, acknowledged his power, and stood aghast at his approaching judgments; but no elements of change in their character were thereby betokened. And when men have sinned away their day of gracious visitation, fighting, killing, and glorying in the destruction of God's prophets, they are not likely to be suddenly transformed into saints by the constraints and terrors of the day of doom, though obliged to confess that it is the invincible God of heaven that is dealing with them.

[124] "That the words in themselves are capable of a good sense, i.e., that they might well be employed to designate true repentance and conversion, is not to be denied. But that they do of necessity imply anything more than a temporary impression made by divine judgments, is plainly an erroneous assumption. The New Testament is full of the like idiom, when speaking of men according to external development made at a particular time, when they are deeply impressed by divine judgments, wonderful miracles, or powerful preaching. So Jesus was δοξαζὅμενος by all in the Synagogue at Nazareth, and yet the same individuals who applauded him, soon led him forth to cast him down a precipice. See Luke 4:15, seq. So the whole multitude of Jews who had seen his miracles, on another occasion, are said 'to have been filled with fear, and to have glorified God.' Luke 5:26. The same thing for substance may be found in Luke 17:12-18; Luke 23:47; Luke 18:43; Matthew 9:8; Matthew 15:31; Acts 4:21. So Felix trembled at the preaching of Paul. Acts 24:25. Herod heard John gladly and did many things in consequence of it. Mark 6:20. The stony ground hearers received the word with joy, yet they soon became offended. Matthew 13:20-21. Many of the Jews believed on Jesus, who nevertheless forsook him. John 2:23-25; John 8:30, seq. Many became disciples, who soon left him. John 6:60-66. Simon Magus himself believed. Acts 8:13; Psalms 106:12. In all these, and many more texts of the like kind, it is easy to perceive that the sacred writers have merely said what appeared to be matter of fact from profession, or from temporary outward demeanour. We must consult the context, i.e., the history of such cases, in order to know whether the glory, or belief, or fear, or discipleship, in question is genuine and permanent, or only temporary and apparent. The nature of the case before us shows that only a temporary fear and praising of God is connected with the present instance.... Indeed, when we view the whole case, either in the light of the general plan of the work, or in that of New Testament philological usage, we may well say that the cases are rare, at the present day, where an exegesis appears more arbitrary than in the present instance; I mean the exegesis adopted here [by Bengel] and defended by Bleek, De Wette, and Ewald."--Moses Stuart in loc.

"It is said, Luke 5:26, 'they were all amazed, and glorified God.' This is spoken of the Scribes and Pharisees, upon the view of a miracle performed on a paralytic; yet was there no religion in it. The same we find recorded of a very mixed multitude, convened at the funeral of the widow's son, whom Christ in their sight raised from the dead, Luke 7:16, 'there came fear on all, and they glorified God.' So that here we are under no necessity of understanding this as a sign of a hearty and entire conversion to God in this remnant; though I shall not doubt but God might thereby work upon the hearts of some in a saving manner. But there is no ground from this expression to think so of the whole herd; for God may be said to be glorified, in Scripture language, many a time when the person that does it is wanting in grace. God may be said to be glorified when his power is acknowledged in any emergency; as the magicians said unto Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' " Exodus 8:19.--James Robertson, Minister at Leuchars, Exposition of the Revelation (1730), p. 199.


"It is not to be understood of a real work of repentance."--James Durham, Minister in Glasgow (1680), Com. on Rev., p. 826, in loc.


Here, then, I conclude this review of the case of The Two Witnesses--their times, their doings, and their end. It is a marvellous history, hard for the rationalistic and materialistic temper of our day to receive, or to treat with respect. I am also well convinced that men will dispute and reject all such presentations of it till these Two Prophets themselves appear again; and even then the dupes of Antichrist will still dispute and reject it to their everlasting perdition. But that will not alter the record which God has given, nor do away with the reality of what he has so solemnly foretold. I may perchance not apprehend the matter rightly; but if I mistake, it is with the Bible in my hand, and following its statements just as the Holy Ghost has caused them to be written. If I have erred from the true meaning of the Sacred Word, it has not been from an intrusion of human fancy, reason, or philosophy, into the realm of inspiration, but from having dared to think that God knew how to say what he meant, and that he really means what he has said. If others are satisfied they understand the matter better, to the Master they and I must answer; but with no clear conscience could I go before him, as things now address themselves to my understanding, were I to affirm anything at variance with what I here have said.


Nor is it a small satisfaction to me, to be able to say, that I have spoken in accord with the common teaching and belief of the Church of Christ and its greatest lights for ages next after the Apostles;-with Justin, the noble Apologist and Martyr;-with Hippolytus, the saint, bishop, and confuter of heresies;-with Origen, the learned preceptor and annotator, who, with all his aberrations, was never charged with error for holding it to be a declaration of Christ that there is to be another coming of Elias; with Victorinus, Methodius, Cyprian, and Lactantius;-with Chrysostom of the golden mouth;-with Jerome the great critic and scholar;-and with Augustine the illustrious bishop and theologian. In such society it would seem hardly possible to go very far astray. To believe and teach what these with one accord have held and taught, can scarcely be in conflict with the faith, or with the duty and proprieties of a sober Christian teacher. And if with them I err, I may claim the same forgiveness by which they are excused and justified.

But I am not willing to believe that these saints, scholars, bishops, martyrs, and champions of the faith against the errors of their times, have all missed the sense and meaning of God's revelations on these points. Not on their authority, but on that of the same records which guided them, I follow in their track.

So, then, I must believe and teach, till better knowledge proves me in the wrong; and,

With faltering footsteps, I will journey on,

Watching the stars that roll the hours away,

Till the faint light that guides me now is gone,

And, like another life, the glorious day;

shall open o'er me from the empyrean height
With warmth, and certainty, and boundless light.

Verses 15-19

Lecture 25

(Revelation 11:15-19)

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET--THE GRAND CLIMACTERIC--"DAYS" INCLUDED--TEXT A SYNOPSIS-VOICES IN HEAVEN-EMOTION OF THE ENTHRONED ELDERS-TEMPLE IN HEAVEN OPENED--ARK APPEARS--NATURE AGITATED--GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD CHANGED--EARTH'S DESTROYERS DESTROYED--THE DEAD JUDGED--THE PROPHETS AND SAINTS REWARDED--ALL CONCERNED IN THESE THINGS.

Revelation 11:15-19. (Revised Text.) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in the heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world is become our Lord's and his Christ's; and he shall reign to the ages of the ages.


And the twenty-four elders which sit before God on their thrones, fell down upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give to thee thanks, O Lord God the Almighty, who art and who wast [and art to come, is an addition without adequate authority here], because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and shown Thyself King. The nations indeed were angry, and Thy indignation is come, and the time [or season] of the dead to be judged, and [the time or season] to give the reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy the destroyers of the earth.


And there was opened the temple of God in the heaven, and there was seen the ark of his covenant in his temple; and there were [or, ensued] lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and earthquake, and great hail.


We here approach the grand climacteric of this world, and of the judgment-work of the Almighty One. The seventh angel, restrained so long from ushering in the final scenes which separate us from the glorious world to come, at length pours out his wondrous blast. It is the Last Trumpet, so often referred to by the sacred writers, and by the Saviour himself, as bringing with it the mightiest scenes and changes in the whole history of earth and time, that here sounds. And if there is anything in all the round of human thought to absorb, fix, and intensify interest and attention, we have it in this subject.

The particular passage we have now to consider, is only a synopsis of the matter-a rehearsal in brief of what is subsequently given in detail. It is an important point to remark, that the seventh trumpet does not sound merely for one instant or for one day. In that solemn oath of the cloud-robed Angel, which we were called to consider in chapter 10, and in which it was said that the fulfilling of the mystery of God should be finished at the sounding of the seventh angel, it is distinctly implied, that the sounding is continuous, and extends through a period of time. It is there said, that "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall sound, the mystery of God is [to be] fulfilled." "Days" are included. What measure of "days," or how many of them, we are not told; but a period of time is specifically indicated. In the case of the other woe trumpets, there is unmistakable continuity,-"five months" the one, and evidently no less a time in the other. And the presence of this distinct note of continuity here, taken along with the tremendousness of what turns out under this trumpet, is evidence enough that it is a mistake to confine this last and great woe trumpet to the few summary notations of the text, or to crowd it into an instant of time. From the plainly expressed character of the events, and from the oath of the Angel, we are sufficiently assured, that this seventh trumpet embraces everything involved in the completing of the whole mystery of God, up to the termination of all this judgment history. That fulfilment is certainly not accomplished without the seven vials of wrath, the harvest and vintage of the world, the manifestation of the great white throne, and the establishment of the new heavens and the new earth. In the nature of the case, that fulfilment overspans everything this side of the completed redemption; and yet that fulfilment is most specifically located "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall sound" There is, therefore, no alternative, but to take the text as only synoptical of this trumpet-a sort of summary of its chief contents, the full details of which are subsequently described, and spread over a considerable period;-an anticipative programme, so to speak, of the main elements and issue of the great drama, given out in advance of the more special narration of circumstantial particulars and related events.[125] In other words, we now have to do with a syllabus of the fulfilment or consummation of the mystery of God-with a prelusive sketch of the contents of the Last Trump, in which we may note:

[125] Bengel takes it as evident, "that Revelation 12:1-17, from its very beginning, refers to the trumpet of the seventh angel; for the voice which was heard immediately under the sound of that trumpet, Revelation 11:15, respecting the kingdom, is repeated by Epitasis in Revelation 12:10, with a remarkable increase of meaning; nor can that by any means be placed before this trumpet." Bengel in loc. Even Hengstenberg, who, by his method of interpretation, makes a new beginning altogether with Revelation 12:1-17, is forced to admit against himself, that "what we now, according to Revelation 11:15-18, expect the appearance of the Lord, the final victory of God's kingdom, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the glorification of the Church, all this is represented in Revelation 11:19 as having entered, but only by way of gentle indication; for the seer would reserve the more particular delineation of the last things for a later part of the book, and by the enigmatical brevity with which he here treats them, would set expectation on the stretch regarding that more particular delineation in reserve." See his Com. in loc. Bengel was unquestionably right when he said that Revelation 12:1-17; Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 14:1-20; Revelation 15:1-8; Revelation 16:1-21; Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24; Revelation 19:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15; Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-21 are but an exergasia, a further explanation or setting forth of the passage now before us.


I. THE SYMPTOMS WHICH ATTEND IT.

II. THE ITEMS WHICH IT EMBRACES.


And may He who sent His angel to disclose these wonders, open our eyes and hearts by His Holy Spirit, that we may rightly apprehend and ponder the same!

I. The symptoms which attend the sounding of the Last Trump are the most remarkable, the most numerous, and the most intense, both in heaven and on earth, that are anywhere detailed in the Scriptures. There were many mighty wonders attendant upon the deliverance of the chosen people from Egypt, and their planting in the promised land. In the air and in the waters, in the trees and in the rocks, in the clouds and in the dust, on animate and inanimate nature, there were manifestations that stand out among the greatest marvels of bygone time. At the birth, in the life, and at the death of Christ, there was also a great commotion, a stir among the angels, among the stars, among the elements, and among men both living and dead, which make up a history such as had never occurred before. And so when Jerusalem was finally destroyed, there were signs, and sounds, and voices, and portents, which have sent their report down through the ages, and which still oppress the breathing of men to hear about. But neither of these, nor all of them together, can at all approach the overwhelming intensity of the manifestations which attend the sounding of the Last Trump.

1. Great voices in heaven utter themselves. There is not only a stir and great activity excited there, but a great outcry, a giving forth of mighty intimations. Whose voices they are, is not here told us; but there is tremendous commotion. Even eternity cannot keep quiet when this crisis comes. The inhabitants of glory have seen too much of earth, its behaviour toward God, and God's doings for it, not to be excited when the final termination is announced. Their silence breaks, and heaven rings with mighty voices.


What some of these voices are, we learn from the succeeding narrative. One is the voice, as the voice of many waters, and as a voice of great thunder, as the voice of harpers harping with their harps, and pouring forth a new song in the presence of the throne. Another is the voice of a mighty angel flying in mid-heaven, calling loud enough for every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people to hear. Others are the voices of angels shouting the fall of great Babylon, and the fate of them that worship the Beast. Another is a voice crying the blessedness of the dead. Others again are the loud voices calling for the thrusting in of the sickle for the reaping of the harvest of the earth and the gathering of its clusters. Still another is a great voice commanding the pouring out of the bowls of the wrath of God; and another a voice out of the temple, from the throne, crying, "It is done," and voices saying "Halleluia," "Amen," "Halleluia;" and still other voices, as it were the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Halleluia, because the Lord God Almighty reigneth. And along with these are yet other great voices from the heavenly world, each in its place and all together combining to fill all the realm of God with intensest utterances.

When the Lamb took the book from the hand of the Sitter upon the throne, there was something of a corresponding commotion in the holy universe. It was an act which included and looked to the consummation which the seventh trumpet brings; and all along the track of unfolding judgment, we find this same celestial interest and excitement continued, till, at the sounding of the last Trump, everything breaks out with cries, and shouts, and songs, and triumphings.

2. The twenty-four Elders fall down upon their faces, and worship with sublimest thanks. When the mighty Goel took the book, they also fell down before the Lamb, and gave their solemn and adoring vote to his worthiness; but here the prostration is still lowlier. They not only fall into the posture of reverent adoration, but "upon their faces;" bury their immortal countenances in the pavement around the throne; by their very emotion hurled from their golden seats, overwhelmed and almost undone. There they expressed their adoring sense of the Saviour's worthiness, exulting in the prospect of what was to result; but here they celebrate the whole issue reached, the blessed consummation come, the thing of hope for all these ages now translating into fact; and, crowned princes of heaven, and anointed coregents with the great Eternal as they are, they cannot contain themselves. Their glorified limbs sink under the weight of the contemplation; their heads bow down to the place of their feet; their whole being melts into one flux of overwhelming realization of what now is come, and the gush of their adoring soul-dissolving joy breaks like a sea of thankfulness against the throne.


Who these Elders are, I have elsewhere told. They are the representatives of the firstborn of the resurrection. They are the seniors of the celestial congregation of the redeemed. They are the ones accounted worthy to "escape" the sad scenes and tribulations of the judgment-time, taken away and hid in the pavilion of God while the anger of the Almighty sweeps the guilty world, and enthroned in heaven for their valiancy and faithfulness, when yet on earth. They are already glorified, but that does not diminish their interest in the ongoing and completion of the same process in the case of others. They have their golden crowns, but that does not withdraw their hearts and sympathies from those still in the graves, or from the still remaining fulfilment of all God's word. There is no vanity and selfishness in heaven; no pride of privilege and place; no vaunting of authority. The crowned Elders on their thrones are even more concerned over the conflicts still pending, and the victories yet to be achieved, than they were in those through which they had won their own crowns. The destroyers of the earth were not yet destroyed. The great multitude of the dead had not yet been finally judged. The mass of men had not yet been assigned their just deserts. The reward had not yet fully come to the prophets and saints and fearers of God. The divine righteousness and honour had not yet been fully vindicated. The usurpation of Satan had not yet been overthrown. The great redemption had not yet been fully wrought out into ultimate fact. But the trumpet which brings all this was now ringing out its unmistakable notes, and not even these blessed kings could keep their seats, or restrain the outpouring of their hearts in grateful, adoring, and exultant thanks.[126]

[126] It is noticeable in this adoring thanksgiving that God is no longer addressed as ὁερχόμενος who is to come. The common text has this addition, but wholly without authority. All critics agree in rejecting it as an interpolation of some copyist who erroneously supposed that it should come in here the same as in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8. There He is called ὁ ερχόμενος because not yet manifested as He should be manifested for the great consummation; but here it is already the time of the last trumpet, in which that manifestation is no longer future, but is already come. Hence, He is no longer addressed as the One who is to come, but as already in actual operation and present in that very respect in which He was previously ὁ ερχόμενος. So Bengel, who remarks: "Interpreters have long ago seen this." Ansbert says: "They do not here subjoin as they were accustomed, and who art to come, they speak of Him as already present." Haymo, who usually treads in the footprints of Ansbert, says: "It must be observed that he does not add, as before, who art to come, for they show Him already present in the judgment by which all these things are accomplished, and therefore they by no means speak of Him as yet to come." John Purvey, in his commentary, published with the preface of Luther, says: "He does not add the third clause, which he has usually added, namely, and who is to come, for this reason, that the prophet [rather the Elders] then saw God, as it were, already sitting in judgment."--Bengel in loc.

3. And the temple of God in heaven opened. There is a heavenly temple and worship, from which the tabernacle and temple of the Jews was copied. When Jehovah directed the building of them, He said to Moses: "Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount" (Exodus 25:40); and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls them ὑποδείγματα, copies or likenesses of things in the heavens (Hebrews 9:23.) The heavenly and the earthly worship were once in close and manifest union. It was sin that divorced them, and separated between man and the divine, excluding him from the sacred communion of Paradise, and all but the consecrated priests from the sanctuary, and all but the high priest from the holy of holies in the Jewish tabernacle and temple, and even him, except once in a year, when alone he might enter it enveloped in clouds of incense. Sin has obscured and hidden from man the sacred and divine. It has repulsed heaven from his view and fellowship, with only a lingering ray left here and there, and even that so buried away as to be, for the most part, entirely unapproachable. Hence, when Christ paid the ransom-price for human sin, and introduced an availing righteousness for the race, and a new dispensation of mercy and grace received its foundation-stone, the veil of the temple rent, the way into the holiest opened, and the divine began to be visible and approachable again. And this opening of the temple in heaven at the last trumpet expresses the same idea. Knowledge and vision of heavenly things, and closer fellowship and intimacy between the worshippers on earth and the worshippers in heaven belong to the great consummation. As the Saviour has taught us to pray, then it is to be, "as in heaven so on earth." Oneness is again to be restored between the worship of both worlds. All this is shown in the twenty-first chapter, where the finished mystery is described. Hence, as this trumpet begins to sound, the mists begin to lift from sacred things, the excluding barriers give way, the seclusion yields to human gaze and approach, the veil withdraws, the holy begins to disclose itself again, and the temple of heaven opens.

4. And with that opening of the heavenly temple the ark of God's covenant appears. It is no unholy or profane exposure, but a hallowed symptom, setting forth still further the glory of the occasion. All the compacts of God with His people, and all His solemn promises to them, are in that ark. All His engagements, whether particular or general, are lodged and treasured there. In that sacred casket they have long been hidden away, as Jeremiah is said to have hidden the Jewish ark when the Chaldeans took Jerusalem.[127] But, though buried from view, it is not lost, and its holy contents have all been preserved. Not a promise is obsolete or dead. And now, at the ending of time, that golden box reappears. As the Jews believed the old ark would be brought out again in the day of Israel's blessing, so the ark of God's covenant is now seen in the temple on high. A divine potency goes along with that ark. On earth the waters of Jordan rolled asunder beneath the shadow of it. The walls of Jericho fell down before it. The enemies of God were scattered where it set forward. The many thousands of Israel were in safety and blessedness where it rested. And its appearance here is a token of the recurrence of all these wonders, only on a completer, grander, and sublimer scale. It tells of the speedy fulfilment of all that God hath spoken, and the putting into living force of all that He has engaged to do. Whether as respects the seed of Abraham or the Gentiles, friends or enemies, the living or the dead, the Church or the world, blessing or punishment, all that the Almighty has covenanted is now to be fulfilled. And in token of this the ark, the sign and bearer of His promises, appears. There could all now see the pledge of God's remembrance of His holy covenant, and of His oath which he swore to Abraham, and of all that He hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

[127] See 2 Maccabees 2:4-8.--Apocalypse, The

5. And lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and earthquakes, and great hail ensued. "The days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall sound," are terrible days; days of sore scourgings and afflictions to the wicked dwellers on the earth, and the breaking forth upon them of sorrows which never end. When God revealed Himself on Sinai He charged the people to beware, lest He should break through upon them; and now He is about to break through. The sky flashes with electric fires. Portentous voices ring out in stunning power. The air is filled with thunder. The earth trembles and quakes. The winds rush in noisy fury, and great hailstones fall upon the earth. Jehovah is now risen up from His place to punish the wicked. And as the ark of his covenant is revealed to give joy and hope to the parties to that covenant, lower nature is set in dread commotion to harbinger the bursting forth of His indignation upon his adversaries.


Such, then, are the predicted symptoms which attend the sounding of the Last Trump. Let us now look at:

II. THE ITEMS WHICH IT EMBRACES.

1. The first named is, a radical change in the government of the world. This is what all the great unidentified voices that first speak on the sounding of the seventh angel utter, as it is the sum of great consummation. The mighty administrators in the upper world exultantly proclaim, "The kingdom [not kingdoms, as the common reading is, but ἡ βασιλεία abstract--the sovereignty] of the world [τοῦ κόσμου--of the constituted order on the earth] is become our Lord's and his Christ's; and he shall reign to the ages of the ages." The tense of the expression is that peculiar to prophetic language, which fixes upon a result yet future, or only beginning to be, as if already accomplished. It is not until the scenes narrated in Revelation 20:1-15 and Revelation 21:1-27 are fulfilled, that this change of sovereignty is finally completed; but when God announces a thing, and especially when He proclaims Himself in motion to do a thing, it is the same to the heavenly orders as if it were already wrought out. The word of God is truth, and what it says is the same as fact and verity already, although not yet distributed out and located in present time. His word has virtue to make its contents present to those who really know Him. The seventh trumpet brings this change, and on the first tone of it all heaven sees and celebrates the work as already done, and the kingdom of the world become their Lord's and His Christ's.


Not yet has the sovereignty of this world become the Lord's. All earthly governments, principalities, and powers, from the beginning until now, are uniformly represented in the Scriptures as wild beasts, having no lawful owner, and full of destructive savageness and offensive uncleanness. A lion with eagle's wings, a bear crunching bones and flesh, a four-winged and four-headed leopard, a nondescript with many horns, dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, having great iron teeth to devour and break in pieces; these are the prophetic symbols of the greatest and most lauded of them. Even the premiership of Daniel himself in one of them does not alter its general character. It is but folly and fanaticism for men to talk of Christian states and governments in this world. Christian and good men may be concerned in their administration, and Christian ideas may sometimes temper their enactments, but earthly states and governments themselves are not Christian, and in the nature of things cannot be. They are all the products of devastated nature's wilds, and full of savage nature's passions and ungodliness. Fix it as we may, such is the result. The best-planned institutions and the wisest laws are ever disappointing their framers. The very law which God Himself promulged from Sinai's thunder-shaken heights was "weak through the flesh," and did not serve to keep the Jewish commonwealth from like apostasy to that of other nationalities. To this hour there is nothing so great a desideratum among men as good and just government, nor another department in which the native evilness and God-antagonizing passions of men are so potent and defiant. True, the kingdom is by right the Lord's. All authority and power originates with Him and belongs to Him. Government is His own ordinance. But since the apostasy of the race to Satan's standard, usurpation, falsehood, and other powers than the rightful sovereign of men and nations, have held and directed the sway in this world. Many revolutions have been wrought, and men have laboured, and sacrificed, and bled, and died to achieve them, believing that now they would secure the precious boon for which the race has sighed and cried for ages; but it was only the turning of the sick man on his bed, who keeps his pain however he may change his place. In our day especially people are looking and labouring for a grand jubilee of nations, shaped to popular rule, and compacted by common laws, interests, and creed, in which enlightened ideas shall be the king, and all the world be one; but the result will be only a more horrible beast than any that preceded it, a leopard with bear's feet and a lion's mouth, full of heads and horns and names of blasphemy; the very embodiment of hell, whose infamies so outrage High Heaven as to bring the great day of God Almighty upon the world. No, no; your revolutions, and reforms, and progress of liberal ideas, and overturning of old creeds, and grand conventionalities in revision of the Decalogue, and internationalities for the redemption of the world without Christ, and glorious philosophies ruling out a personal God and exalting self and passion in His place, and all your glittering ideals to which to reconstruct society and relocate the highest interests of man, much as they may promise, and successfully as they may draw the heart and energy of the world after them, are but the nurslings of Satan's bosom in which this world lies, and the inspirations of his foul breath. Dream, and prate, and preach, and glory as men may, the devil is de facto the god and king of this world. His mantle may be often changed, and every day may exhibit a new garb, but the presiding genius within is still and always the devil, with all his pride, and malice, and spoliating falsities. And so it will go on, "wicked men and seducers waxing worse and worse," till the last trumpet sounds.


But then shall come another order; not developed from below, but enforced with sudden and resistless power from above. How, we will see when we come to consider the details of the ensuing chapters. Meanwhile, however, the fact itself is sure to the exultant voices in heaven. God is king, and the sovereignty hath He given to His Son, Jesus Christ. And having given the world six thousand years in which to choose and settle upon its proper allegiance, and finding after all only an intenser and more malignant apostasy, He causes the final trump to sound, breaks in with His Almightiness, and enforces His rightful dominion. A kingdom comes which breaks in pieces, and consumes all other kingdoms, and stands forever. Laws are given to be changed no more. And the true Anointed reigns on earth in an empire of sinless, deathless life and peace, to the ages of the ages. The government is changed.

2. And closely connected with this change, and one of the things involved in it, is the destruction of earth's destroyers. This is announced in the thanksgiving of the Elders. The same word is used to denote Jehovah's act, that describes the character of those on whom the action is inflicted. What men and governments in this world sow, that shall they also reap. They that are a curse to the world, shall be accursed. The word (διαψθείρω) means to spoil, corrupt, ruin, make away with, kill, destroy; and those who act in this line, shall be dealt with in the same line. Usurpers, liars, tyrants, persecutors, and murderers, who thus spoil God's world, shall be reacted upon by the violence of their own deeds, overwhelmed, and utterly put out of the way.

Peter gives it as one of the great objects to be achieved by the awful demonstrations of the day of the Lord, that then shall come "the perdition of ungodly men." That day shall find wickedness and confederation in iniquity ripened to the full. The very prince of hell shall then have incorporated himself personally in the government of the world, speaking through its heads, dictating its religion and its laws, controlling its trade, enforcing the worship of himself as God, cutting off the heads of those who dissent, filling the world with the worst of blasphemies, and compelling all that would live to receive the mark of allegiance to him. All existing nations on the prophetic earth shall have organically conjoined themselves with him as the representative of all authority and power, "and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him." But when the seventh trumpet sounds, the end of this infamous confederation has come. Then the maddened nations shall suddenly be dashed to atoms, as a vessel of pottery struck with a rod of iron; and their armies slain by the blasts of Jehovah, as the Syrians of old; and the great beast that did rule them, and the deceiver that was with him, shall be cast alive into the lake of fire; and great Babylon shall fall, as a millstone cast into the sea; and the dragon shall be seized and shut up in his proper hell; and death and the grave shall be extinguished; and all the destroyers of the earth shall be destroyed! O! glorious riddance of our weary world, when "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire!" (Matthew 13:41-42.) Well may the enthroned Elders fall on their faces, and cry their thanks to the Lord Almighty for it.

3. And still another item in the grand schedule of the last trumpet is, the judgment of the dead. This also is recited in the thanksgiving of the Elders. When men die, and their bodies waste in the ground, it is not the end of them. Whatever may be their state meanwhile, they reappear again. John sees them, the small and the great, given up by the sea, and death, and hades, all standing before the great white throne, to be judged, every one of them, according to their works. There is to be a resurrection, even, of the wicked. They that put an end to their existence on earth, resolving not to live any more, must still live, and take the judgment and sentence of Heaven for all their deeds. Not one of all the race can escape it. And the time of the dead to be judged, is "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel."


This side the grave, full justice is never done; and up to the great day, no one receives entirely all his deserts. That is reserved for the period of resurrection. Soul and body, having wrought together, shall reap together of what they have sown. Only the resurrection life is full retribution life. Incomplete and unequal are all the administrations here. Many a great criminal dies without having had his guilt so much as known, whilst perchance innocent ones have had to suffer for his sins. The wicked go unpunished, are even honoured in their crimes, and pass away with no experiences to mark how they stand in the estimate of God. Fortunes are made, and enjoyed, and respected, and their holders held in favourable esteem to the end of their days, every dime of which is stained with blood, corroded with crime, and marked with fraud, oppression, and soul-damning deeds of injustice. So marked and constant are the inequalities that occur, that even the holiest of men have often been tempted to despondency and doubt whether their faith and godliness are not after all a mistake. Nor is there any stay for the good man's confidence, or adequate justification of his course, but in the fact that the end of the matter is not in this world. Beyond is the theatre on which final settlement is to be made, and there is the invincible throne of inexorable justice. There shall all earth's wrongs be righted, all present inequalities adjusted, and the administrations of God forever vindicated. The dead have not gone beyond His reach. The grave does not cover them from His sight, nor bar them from His approach and power. Having escaped unpunished from this world, their just portion still awaits them in the next. People may call it fable and dream, and reason it an impossibility; but that will not alter it. And when the seventh angel sounds, there will be exultant thanksgivings in heaven, that "the time of the dead to be judged" is come.

4. And with this, yet one other point, the giving of reward to the prophets, and the saints, and to them that fear God, the small and the great. Piety and the fear of God are poor recommendations for the favours of this world. Our religion is the religion of the cross, and that cross has to be borne by all who are faithful and true. Nothing can abolish it-nothing can exempt from it. Since the days of Abel, whose confiding devotion and humble obedience to his God cost him his life, there has been no age, no nation, no realm or country on earth, where saintship and holiness have not subjected to losses, trials, and pains. The prophets all were persecuted and injured men, who lived martyr lives if they did not come to martyr deaths. For all these ages, the children of God have been children of affliction and sorrow. Some were tortured; others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonments; some were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword; some wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, compelled to bide themselves in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. He that would come after Jesus must deny himself. He that would live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. There is no rest, no recompense, no hope for us here. For, if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But no Christian looks for his compensation in this present world. So long as he is in this tabernacle, he groans, being burdened, troubled on every side, distressed, perplexed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. And the only thing that reconciles to such a lot is, that God's servants "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." Glorious promises have come forth, and these the good have embraced, and are persuaded of them, and confess themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth, looking for a better country, believing that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. And the realization of all these fond desires and blessed hopes belongs to the time of the seventh angel, when he shall sound. Piety may not pay as regards this world, but it will pay then. Not even the gift of a cup of water to the thirsty shall then go unrewarded; nor a loss, or pain, or labour of love, or pang of hardship, or tear of sorrow, incurred for Jesus or His truth's sake, fail of its just recompense. Rewards-rewards-for the wronged prophets, for the suffering saints, and for all that fear God, small and great, are in reserve. Jesus hath gone to make them ready. In heaven, in the counsel and purpose of God, in His covenant and promise, in His hand, secure from all peradventure, they are stored away. Faith sees them there, and waits for them with eager hope. And when the last trumpet sounds, they shall be given. Then shall Paul get his crown of righteousness, and all the apostles take their everlasting thrones. Then shall Daniel stand in his lot, and Moses possess the recompense to which he had respect, when he chose rather "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of God and His Christ, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.


No wonder, then, that the blessed Elders fall on their faces before God, and praise and thank Him with profoundest song, when the signal for so glorious a consummation sounds.

Nor is all this without the most intense moment to us. We are all concerned with that last trumpet's sound. Our sublimest eternal interests are wrapt up in what it is to bring. Big is it with the doom and destiny of everyone, and everything that is. Be our place, our state, our occupation what it may, our fate and lot, and every question, every doubt, shall then come to final settlement. Near or remote as those scenes may be, we shall all be in them, and take from thence the character of our forever. Believe it or not, we every one shall be there; there as victims of the great day of Almighty wrath, as prisoners brought forth for final execution, or, as the friends and servants of Jesus, to be confessed, rewarded, and glorified by our blessed Lord.

And as we spend these swift-passing days, and conduct ourselves in this brief life, will be the character of our experience and portion then. Building on Jesus in humble faith and lowly steadfastness, we are safe, and our work is safe. Then may we sing, and exult, and give thanks with all the holy ones of heaven, as we see the day approaching. Then may we rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is the reward that we shall get. Otherwise there is no dreader sound than that of the Last Trump. And when we think of the millions of dead and living for whom it has no blessing, and of the utter destruction which it shall bring on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel, is there not reason for us all to be moved with fear, lest that day should come upon us unawares? It will be too late then to remedy present mistakes, negligences, and omissions. If we are to meet that day with joy, and escape the horrors it brings to the unprepared, we must be getting ready now; getting ready, by honest repentance of our sins, joining ourselves to Christ and His people, and with all our heart and energy seeking to be in accord with His word and will. Happy they, who, when the Last Trumpet sounds, shall be found in such a case!

Jesus, do Thou mine eyes unseal,

And let them grow

Quick to discern whate'er Thou dost reveal,
So shall I be delivered from that woe,

Blindly to stray

Through hopeless night, while all around is day.

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Bibliographical Information
Seiss, Joseph A. "Commentary on Revelation 11". Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sei/revelation-11.html.